Project 21 Press Release
President Clinton's Executive Order Would Reward Unions At the Expense of
For Immediate Release: April 25, 1997
Contact: Arturo Silva 202/543-4110 or [email protected]
An impending Executive Order by President Clinton will exclude many black
Americans from competing equally for contracts or subcontracts on federal
construction projects, say members of the African-American leadership group
"The Executive Order will make it extraordinarily difficult for smaller
non-union firms to get federal contracts," says Project 21 member Peter
Kirsanow, Labor Counsel for the Cleveland law firm of Benesch, Friedlander,
Coplan & Aronoff. "It is akin to a Davis Bacon Act on steroids,
effectively barring black-owned firms, the majority of which are non-union,
from government work, while creating a huge, expensive set-aside program
for unions." The Davis-Bacon Act requires that union wages be paid
to workers on federal construction projects valued at more than $2,000.
"The Employment Policy Foundation estimates that President Clinton's
Executive Order would cost the government an additional $4.8 billion in
federal construction spending, or a 30% decline in the level of federal
construction, said Project 21 member Horace Cooper, Legislative Counsel
to Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX). "In addition, since 80% of construction
workers are not represented by a union, the Clinton Administration would
be limiting bidding on federal construction projects to a select group of
contractors. This proposed Executive Order is another attempt by Clinton
to grant yet another special preference to yet another group. As often
happens with group preferences, one group will benefit at the expense of
another. Minorities, in particular, will be hurt by Clinton's payback to
the unions for their support in last year's elections. Minority construction
workers tend not to have union representation, and minority contractors
can't afford to employ a unionized workforce."
The Executive Order by President Clinton would require any contracts or
subcontracts on federal construction projects to be awarded only to contractors
who have a unionized workforce, who hire workers from union employment centers,
who pay union wages and benefits, who obey union work rules, job classifications
and arbitration procedures. Many minority workers are expected to bear
the brunt of the Executive Order since they tend not to be unionized and
are not as skilled, at least on paper. Minority bidders are also expected
to have problems obtaining government contracts since their businesses tend
to be smaller, preventing them from using union employees whose wages, benefits
and work conditions are often exorbitant.
"Bill Clinton finally has delivered for his union paymasters,"
said Project 21 member Deroy Murdock, an MSNBC political commentator. "His
proposed Executive Order will violate free association rights of contractors
across America. At the same time, minorities (who tend to be less represented
in unions) and people leaving welfare rolls for the workforce will find
it harder than ever to make a living. Meanwhile, taxpayers will be stuck
with costlier bills for federal construction. Is this what Bill Clinton
means by reinventing government?"
For an interview, the Employment Policy Foundation study, or other information,
contact Arturo Silva at 202/543-4110 or [email protected].