RELEASE: Ahead of the President’s Infrastructure Plan Release, CAP Action Proposal Says that All Government Spending Should Support Decent, Good-Paying Jobs

Washington, D.C. — The federal government spends more than $1 trillion annually though contracts, grants, and other funding vehicles to deliver essential goods and services. While there are laws on the books to ensure that at least some of this funding creates good jobs—the Davis-Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act, for example—there remains an uneven patchwork of workplace standards for companies receiving government support. With the president slated to announce a so-called major infrastructure plan in the coming days, today the Center for American Progress Action Fund released a proposal outlining standards that should be guaranteed for jobs funded through all federal spending, including federal grants, loans, loan guarantees, and tax incentives.

“Our existing worker protection and labor laws are insufficient for protecting the millions of Americans whose jobs are supported by federal spending,” said Karla Walter, director of the American Worker Project at CAP Action and author of the proposal. “Pro-worker lawmakers should fight to ensure that all jobs created by the infrastructure plan provide decent wages and benefits. In addition, lawmakers should fight to expand job quality protections to all jobs created through federal spending—whether it be a contract, grant, loan, or tax incentive.”

While workers on jobs funded through federal contracting dollars are often covered by wage and benefit protections, these protections are insufficient for today’s network of jobs supported by government spending. These protections are under constant attack by conservative politicians; cover less than half of all federal spending; and typically do not apply to jobs funded through federal grants, loans, loan guarantees, and tax incentives. Additionally, existing job quality standards still too often pay very low wages, do not protect workers attempting to form a union from employer opposition, and leave workers with little power to negotiate for better wages and benefits.

CAP Action’s report proposes that all companies receiving financial support from the federal government should be required to pay decent wages, provide good benefits, refrain from discrimination, comply with workplace laws, and respect workers’ rights to join a union and bargain collectively. Moreover, pro-worker lawmakers should fight against efforts to weaken standards for workers on federally supported projects and should oppose any major infrastructure proposal that does not create good jobs.

Click here to read “Ensuring Government Spending Creates Decent Jobs for Workers” by Karla Walter.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at or 202.478.6331.