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President Obama Should Use the State of the Union to Hold Accountable Federal Contractors that Harm Workers and Shortchange Taxpayers

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Read the full column (CAP Action)

President Barack Obama will likely use Tuesday’s State of the Union address to promote a number of reforms essential to the well-being of working families in the United States—from universal preschool, to raising the minimum wage, to paid leave. But the president should also mention reforms that ensure only companies that respect federal workplace laws are able to receive government contracts. Such reforms have received considerably less attention than others in recent years, but they can nonetheless help give millions of Americans the opportunity to reach the middle class. The president has the authority to achieve this reform with a stroke of his pen and avoid the congressional gridlock that has prevented many of his other priorities from advancing.

The federal government spends hundreds of billions of dollars each year contracting out everything from janitorial services to the design and manufacture of sophisticated weapons systems. All totaled, approximately 22 percent of American workers are employed by companies that receive government contracts, according to Department of Labor estimates.

Yet the review process to ensure that only responsible companies receive these contracts is very weak, and too often, the contracting out of government functions resembles a race to the bottom—one that supports bad jobs and poor value for taxpayers, as companies with long track records of violating workplace laws continue to receive contracts.

Read the full column (CAP Action)

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

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Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, health care, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention, the National Security Agency)
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Print: Chelsea Kiene (energy and environment, Legal Progress, higher education)
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Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
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TV: Rachel Rosen
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Radio: Chelsea Kiene
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