Reprinted from www.corpwatch.org
Subsidizing Contractor MisconductThree Contractors Who Won Big Despite Egregious Labor Violations
by Chris Thompson, Special to CorpWatch
January 7th, 2015
Damage caused by Imperial Sugar refinery explosion at Port Wentworth, Georgia. U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.
Bridgett was killed when a piece of Tyson Foods' heavy equipment
crushed him. Calvin Bryant was crippled in a Imperial Sugar plant
explosion in Georgia that also killed 14 of his co-workers. When Alma
Aranda tried to exercise her legal right to take unpaid time off to care
for her dying mother, Verizon harassed her with so much paperwork that
her hair fell out in clumps.
Last summer, to help put an end to these kinds of mistreatment, President Barack Obama signed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order.
Here's why the executive order could help workers: Every year, the federal government awards a fortune in contracts for everything from defense systems to administrative services to companies that employ an estimated one in five American workers.
Subsidizing Contractor Misconduct
Full Report (PDF): Subsidizing Contractor Misconduct
Part One: Tyson Foods - Rodney's Story
Part Two: Imperial Sugar - Calvin's Story
Part Three: Verizon - Alma's Story
Government rules that require it to contract only with companies that
have a "satisfactory record of performance, integrity, and business
ethics." In practice, the contracting system does not effectively review
companies' records for responsibility, nor does it ensure--before
awarding contracts--that violators reform their practices.
As a result companies have continued to receive billions of dollars, despite long records of violating workplace laws. They may neglect legally required safety standards and maim a worker on the job, systematically engage in age or gender discrimination, refuse to pay overtime in violation of the law, or ignore the Americans with Disabilities Act and demote or fire disabled employees.
When these companies are caught, they may face financial penalties. Sometimes they are in the form of a fine from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), rarely in excess of a few hundred thousand dollars. Sometimes the payoff is a little steeper, such as when employees or state agencies file class action lawsuits and collect millions.