Today, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers Under Service Contracts, that provides protections for federal contract workers by requiring contracting agencies to keep qualified existing workers in their jobs and values the contributions of experienced federally-contracted workers. This is welcome news to the thousands of federal contract workers represented and supported by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), who perform essential services for the government and our communities. IUE-CWA, the manufacturing division of CWA, represents contract workers covered by the Service Contracts Act (SCA), who service military fighter jets and other aircrafts, support satellite operations, provide ID badge services, and are employed in a range of other service occupations for federal contractors. CWA also represents about 60,000 customer-service and call-center workers, and actively organizes with federally-contracted Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) to form unions and otherwise improve workplace standards in the industry.
These workers provide essential services to our government, but without the benefits of being a government employee, and their contracts are plagued by instability and potential disruption. Contracts change hands as often as every 3-4 years, putting workers at constant risk of losing their jobs, and public programs losing their accumulated skills. President Biden’s Executive Order requires contractors to reduce turnover by keeping workers in their roles when taking over a contract from another organization. Furthermore, this new Executive Order builds on a previous Executive Order signed by President Obama and provides additional protections for workers including location continuity, which eliminates a loophole that existed in the previous Executive Order that allowed contracting agencies to replace workers from the predecessor contract by changing locations. This added protection provides job security and peace of mind for workers. Additionally, it will save taxpayer dollars and make federal procurement more efficient by reducing worker turnover and ensuring there will be a reliable supply of experienced and skilled federally-contracted employees.
“I’ve worked for the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services through multiple companies, and there are always questions about what will happen during those transitions,” said Annie Pelfrey, a Tier 2 Customer Service Representative at Maximus Federal Services' Winchester, Ky., call center. “Workers like me are counting on President Biden to ensure that this Executive Order applies to federal call center contracts like ours as quickly as possible so that we and our families can have peace of mind about the stability of our jobs going forward and we can focus on providing great customer service to Americans with questions about their healthcare.”
“Despite dealing with difficult circumstances including low wages, job insecurity, harassment, discrimination, and more, federally-contracted workers have continued to provide services that are essential for our government to function. Taxpayers rely on the services these experienced and skilled workers provide. But for far too long, their fate has been determined by the contracting companies who seek to exploit them for more profits,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. “This Executive Order, the latest in a series of actions taken by the Biden-Harris Administration to protect workers, is a great step towards strengthening workers’ rights. We will continue to work with the Administration to ensure workers remain a priority.”
About CWA: The Communications Workers of America represents working people in telecommunications, customer service, media, airlines, health care, public service and education, manufacturing, tech, and other fields.