UPDATE: Trump repeals DOL 'blacklisting' rule

UPDATE: President Donald Trump signed legislation Monday repealing the Department of Labor's Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act, also known as the "blacklisting" rule, according to The Hill.

The Associated Builders and Contractors cheered Trump's move. "The rule violated the due process rights of contractors by forcing them to report mere allegations of misconduct — which are often frivolous and filed with nefarious intentions by special interest groups — the same as fully adjudicated violations," the ABC said in a release.

Dive Brief:

  • Following a move by the U.S. House of Representatives in February, the U.S. Senate voted 49 to 48 without amendment on March 6 to approve a resolution to repeal the Department of Labor’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act. 

  • Dubbed the "blacklisting" rule, the Obama-era regulation would require contractors bidding on federal construction projects over $500,000 to submit their history of labor compliance to the DOL for review.

  • The House and Senate used the Congressional Review Act to pass the measure, with Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-NC, putting forth the resolution in the House and Ron Johnson, R-WI, doing the same in the Senate. Both houses had 60 days to review and reject the rule to make the appeal official.

Dive Insight:

While unions and labor groups supported the legislation, construction industry associations pushed back. The Associated Builders and Contractors led the legal charge against the measure, saying the rule violated their members’ First Amendment rights by requiring them to disclose compliance information. They also cited the cost of implementation as a barrier to smaller contractors seeking to compete on federal jobs.

Advocates include the AFL-CIO, which said the rule will enforce accountability with taxpayer dollars.

Safety — along with the standards and regulations meant to maintain it on job sites — has long been a point of contention between union and nonunion organizations in the construction industry.

New York City, as one example, has increased its safety enforcement efforts in response to an uptick in accidents and injuries on job sites there and is considering further measures. The city’s Committee on Housing and Buildings is pushing the city to categorize construction safety incidents based on whether those involved were members of union or nonunion organizations. 

Union leaders contend their job sites are safer than nonunion sites because of the training the former requires. Critics of the union defense say proposals like the one put forth by the Committee on Housing and Buildings aim to bolster membership for organized labor groups, which are struggling to maintain their numbers in cities where they’ve traditionally had a strong base.

The FPSW Act met similar resistance as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s electronic reporting and recordkeeping rule for its requirement that private companies disclose their safety and accident histories. Critics say compliance would also release competitive operational information such as hours worked. In the case of FPSW Act and the recordkeeping rule, opponents have argued that providing such information out of context could be damaging to companies’ reputations.

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