Enforcing Nondiscrimination Protections Vital to Families’ Economic Security
WASHINGTON – Democrats on the Committee on Education and the Workforce’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee, led by acting Ranking Member Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), today stood up for the mission of an important federal agency that protects the rights and opportunities of American workers who work for government contractors.
Members of the HELP Subcommittee heard testimony about how the enforcement of existing guidelines and others proposed by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) will ensure that taxpayers’ dollars do not support discriminatory hiring and compensation practices by companies that have the privilege to contract with the federal government.
Senior Democratic member Dennis Kucinich, who has previously led investigations into the role of federal contractors and into federal labor policy, led Democrats in fighting for fair employment practices. “The federal government spends $537 billion a year on contractors. With that kind of money at stake, taxpayers have every right to expect that those contractors will perform to the highest standards,” said Kucinich. “One of those standards is a simple one. Obey the law. Respect the civil rights of American workers.”
“Taxpayer dollars used to buy goods and services from companies simply should not support discrimination,” said Fatima Goss Graves, vice president for education and employment at the National Women’s Law Center. “But OFCCP’s role in administering and enforcing the ban on discrimination in federal contracting is especially important in these times when no worker – indeed no family – can afford to have their employment opportunities limited or their wages arbitrarily lowered by discrimination.”
Kucinich and the other Democratic members of the subcommittee elicited testimony from the witnesses on the critical need to improve the employment opportunities for returning veterans, disabled Americans, and women—groups that been particularly hard hit by the economic crisis. The OFCCP is the signature agency tasked to enforce nondiscrimination protections for those who work for federal contractors.
“Yesterday we marked a milestone that illustrates how much work we – and OFCCP – have to do. Yesterday, April 17, was Equal Pay Day. Equal Pay Day marked the day on which women’s compensation finally caught up with their male counterparts from last year. To earn what men earned in 2011, women must work all of 2011, and then keep on working, right up until April 17 of this year,” said Kucinich.
“That’s because, as the U.S. Census Bureau has pointed out, women working full-time continue to earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.”