Fix the ‘Blacklisting’ Rule

President Donald Trump has officially revoked  the so-called “Blacklisting” executive order that was signed by former President Barack H. Obama in 2014 to encourage federal contractors to obey labor laws.

That’s a shame.  It’s smart public policy to save federal tax dollars by encouraging voluntary compliance with federal law. However, in truth, Obama’s executive order was needlessly flawed and arguably unconstitutional..

As written, the blacklisting rule required contractors seeking federal contracts over $500,000 to report both alleged labor violations and adjudicated violations to federal agencies. Federal agencies could then use the information  to award future contracts, cancel existing contracts, and potentially demand remedial action to address a pattern of violations.

It should be obvious even to a high school student that the federal government can’t penalize a contractor that is merely accused of a labor law violation. What if the contractor is innocent? Contractors have a right to due process of law under the U.S. Constitution.

A Texas District Court judge blocked the blacklisting rule from taking effect last year after Associated Builders and Contractors requested a temporary stay while it challenged the rule in court.

Obama ultimately is responsible for the wasted time and effort that courts, legislators and now Trump have spent on the inherently flawed blacklisting rule.

The underlying concept of the blacklisting rule is smart and efficient. In other words, good public policy.

Even right-wing Republicans might agree  that American workers deserve  fair wages and  safe working conditions. The blacklisting rule could move the needle in that direction without requiring needless human suffering,  federal investigations into workplace tragedies and protracted, costly court proceedings.

Moreover, Trump and/or Congress could easily write a blacklisting rule that satisfies Constitutional requirements by focusing only upon adjudicated labor law violations.

Is it wishful thinking to envision a federal government that acts on the basis of sound public policy to further the public good?

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