Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the Service Contract Act of 1965.

October 22, 1965

THE Government of the United States must be a model employer. Those enrolled in the service of the Nation must be assured the same labor standards and working conditions which apply to private industry. This legislation, H.R. 10238, closes the last big gap in protecting those standards where employees of contractors are doing business with the Federal Government.

Employees working on Federal construction contracts have long been protected by the Davis-Bacon Act. Those employed by businesses with Government supply contracts have enjoyed the protection of the Walsh-Healey Act. Until today, those employees of contractors who supply various services to the Government have possessed no such protection.

The McNamara-O'Hara Act, which I am signing today, corrects that deficiency. Under this act, protection is now extended to workers engaged in laundry and dry-cleaning, custodial and janitorial duties, guard service, packing and crating, food service, and miscellaneous housekeeping services performed on contract for the Federal Government or the District of Columbia.

All such contracts must now contain provisions regarding minimum wages, fringe benefits, and working conditions. Their wages must be no less than the rate determined by the Secretary of Labor to be prevailing for similar employees in the locality. Also, wages must not be less than the minimum rate required under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Finally, work must not be performed under conditions which are unsanitary or hazardous or dangerous to the health safety of the working men and women.

I am particularly pleased to sign this bill. I am grateful to Senator McNamara and Congressman O'Hara for their splendid efforts to achieve its enactment because so many of the employees who will benefit are among the lowest paid workers in our society.

We take justifiable pride in our growing national economy and in the ever-higher living standards being achieved by most Americans. Yet, in the midst of prosperity, there are many who continue to exist on economic levels far below that of our general prosperity. Many of those affected by this bill are so situated.

Under the terms of the McNamara-O'Hara Act we can now act to assist all such workers when they perform work financed with Federal funds.

This measure will be enforced fairly and impartially. But I want to make it clear that it is not a license for harassment of management nor is it an open door to misuse of its aims. I would hope that emerging from these new rules will be better understanding on the part of both employees and employers.

Note: As enacted, the Service Contract Act of 1965 (McNamara-O'Hara Act, H.R. 10238) is Public Law 89-286 (79 Stat. 1034).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Service Contract Act of 1965. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives