Obama reverses Bush-era order on labor agreements

The Obama administration has overturned a 2001 executive order requiring federal agencies to remain neutral in their approach to relationships between contractors on major construction projects and the workers they employ.

The administration's decision to overturn Executive Order 13202, was only the latest salvo in a battle that has shifted back and forth between Democratic and Republican administrations since 1992 over the use of union labor in federal construction projects.

In that year, President George H.W. Bush signed Executive Order 12818, which forbade agencies from requiring construction contractors to use project labor agreements, which governed the relationships with their workers for a contract's duration. President Clinton in 1993 issued Executive Order 12818 overturning Bush's order, and released a memo in 1997 recommending that agencies require contractors to use project labor agreements on construction contracts worth more than $5 million. In 2001, President George W. Bush reversed Clinton's order, and added a clause stipulating that agencies could not discourage the use of labor agreements either, but had to stay neutral toward such agreements altogether.

President Obama issued his own executive order in February, saying it was the government's policy to encourage the use of labor agreements to avoid misunderstandings about the cost of labor, and to ensure that one contractor's workforce problems during a project not delay other teams involved in the contract. The revocation of Bush's 2001 executive order now clears the way for enforcing Obama's order.

"The use of a project labor agreement may prevent these problems from developing by providing structure and stability to large-scale construction projects, thereby promoting the efficient and expeditious completion of federal construction contracts," Obama wrote in February when he issued the order.

Matt Biggs, legislative director of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, said his union, which represents both federal employees and contractors, viewed the reversal of the 2001 Bush order as a step forward.

"This administration's action in reversing Executive Order 13202 will further encourage project labor agreements, and is reflective of their commitment to working people," Biggs said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.