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President Obama signs several pro-labor Executive Orders

03.28.09

April 2009, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

President Obama signs several pro-labor Executive Orders

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, March 15th- President Obama signed several Executive Orders benefiting organized labor that will have an immediate impact on private businesses that provide goods and services to the federal government. In some cases, Executive Orders of President Bush are being rescinded and replaced in whole or in part by these new Executive Orders.

Two of the Executive Orders include the encouraging of federal agencies to mandate “Project Labor Agreements” (PLA) on large scale construction projects involving federal monies.

A PLA is a collective bargaining agreement between a union and contractor covering work done on a specific project. These agreements are limited to the specific project. Under these PLA’s, the general contractor and all subcontractors must sign the agreement. However, by referencing the local area craft construction collective bargaining agreement, usally to designate wages and fringe benefits to be paid, PLAs may raise issues relating to whether the contractor has entered into a collective bargaining relationship broader than the project that is subject to the PLA. In view of the anticipated surge in federal construction projects as part of the stimulus legislation, this Order likely will result in a massive expansion of the number of employees covered by Project Labor Agreements.

A second Executive Order signed by President Obama requires each government contractor to post a notice to their employees advising them that federal labor guarantees their “full freedom of association, self organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection.” This Executive Order rescinds President Bush’s that required contractors to post a notice advising employees of certain rights they had regarding the use of union dues monies.

The United States Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC, stated President Obama’s Executive Order hinders free speech and rights of employees. “We are disappointed with President Obama’s executive order, the purpose of which is to interfere with an employer’s ability to communicate with its employees about whether they should be represented by a union,” said Randel Johnson, vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a statement to the newspaper.

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