With little fanfare, the Obama administration has been pursuing an aggressive campaign to restore protections for workers that have been eroded by business activism, conservative governance and the evolution of the economy in recent decades.And so, it should come as no surprise that today, the Obama administration made this announcement.
In the last two months alone, the administration has introduced a series of regulatory changes. Among them: a rule that would make millions more Americans eligible for extra overtime pay, and guidelines suggesting that many employers are misclassifying workers as contractors and therefore depriving them of basic workplace protections. That is an issue central to the growth of so-called gig economy companies like Uber.
A little more than a week ago, a federal appeals panel affirmed an earlier regulation granting nearly two million previously exempted home care workers minimum wage and overtime protections. And on Thursday, President Obama’s appointees to the National Labor Relations Board pushed through an important ruling that makes it easier for employees of contractors and franchises to bargain collectively with the corporations that have sway over their operations.
“These moves constitute the most impressive and, in my view, laudable attempt to update labor and employment law in many decades,” said Benjamin I. Sachs, a professor at Harvard Law School and a former assistant general counsel for the Service Employees International Union. The goal, he said, is to “keep pace with changes in the structure of the labor market and the way work is organized.”
President Barack Obama issued an executive order Monday that requires federal contractors to grant at least seven days of paid sick leave to their employees, including 300,000 who had none.Included in that first article was this:
Obama addressed the order during a Labor Day speech at a Boston breakfast and rally, where he also called on Congress to extend paid leave to millions more Americans by passing the Healthy Families Act, which would mandate that all employers with more than 15 employees would have to grant at least seven sick days annually. In addition, Obama pointed to Massachusetts as an example of a state that has passed similar sick leave laws, calling on other cities and states to do the same.
“Perhaps the most substantively important speech of the Obama presidency was the Osawatomie speech in 2011,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a former communications director and senior adviser to the president, referring to a speech that December in Kansas. “It was a set of marching orders to the entire government that increasing income inequality and declining economic mobility are the key challenge of our time. Given the congressional gridlock, the president pushed us very hard to pull every lever possible.”Perhaps another way to celebrate Labor Day is to read/listen to that speech once again.