On January 30, 2009 President Obama signed three executive orders affecting federal contractors and their employees.  Two of the three orders affect union rights.  (Click the title of each order to download it).

  1. Economy in Government Contracting.  Denies federal contractors reimbursement for funds spent on activities designed to persuade employees to join or to not join a union, such as printed materials, consultants or meetings (activities sometimes known as "union busting"). 
  2. Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws.  Requires all federal contracts to require contractors to post a notice informing employees that they have a right either to join or  to not join a union. A prior order from President Bush, required contractors to post a notice informing employees that they had a right not to join a union.
  3. Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers Under Service Contracts.  Requires all federal contracts to include a provision requiring any contractor who assumes the contract from a previous contractor to retain that previous contractor’s qualified employees.

The orders are part of President Obama’s Task Force on Middle Class Working Families and, according to the White House, are designed to "level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests."  If you’re curious about what labor unions think of the orders, check out this uncurbed enthusiasm from the AFL-CIO.  We haven’t seen a lot of reaction from employers groups, but we’ll make the bold prediction that they won’t be too happy.  Keep in mind:  these orders only affect federal contractors; if you don’t sell goods or services to Uncle Sam, they probably don’t apply to you.