Today at Interfaith Worker Justice, we joined workers and worker advocates, including our brave friends from Good Jobs Nation, in celebrating President Obama’s plan to issue an Executive Order raising the minimum wage for millions of federally-contracted workers.
Earlier today, Demos reported on the anticipated announcement.
During tonight's State of the Union, President Obama will announce an Executive Order requiring government contractors to raise the minimum wage for their lowest-paid workers to $10.10. Federal contract workers organizing with Good Jobs Nation paved the way for this victory, and many stakeholders have supported the Americans working on behalf of the country for low pay.
Workers went on strike seven times in seven months at some of the government's most popular establishments including Union Station, the Pentagon and the Smithsonian Institute. More than 400 people of faith sent letters to President Obama supporting these workers and urging him to sign an Executive Order lifting more than two million government-contracted workers out of poverty wages and assuring the U.S. government will not condone poor working conditions or wage theft.
Raising the pay of federally-contracted workers who are currently making poverty wages is the right and moral thing to do. This decision is great for workers, their families and our economy. It sets a good standard for employers of low-wage workers around the country.
“This is a great achievement for us. What we’ve done is going somewhere. We’re moving forward and accomplishing something that means a lot to me, my family and my coworkers’ families," said Alexis Vasquez. “This campaign has really opened my eyes and given me hope to a better future.”
Alexis works at the McDonald's at the Air and Space Museum in D.C. He earns only $8.25 per hour is only scheduled to work one four-hour shift per week.
We are happy about the President’s decision, but we are mindful of the continuous struggles of federal contract workers – many of them are still vulnerable to exploitation from employers and retaliation for speaking up. While we celebrate this victory, we need to remember that this is only the beginning. We need to push Congress to raise the minimum wage for all workers and make sure corporations are held accountable for their role in the growing economic inequality that’s plaguing our nation.”
The Rev. Michael Livingston is IWJ's National Policy Director, and has worked closely with the brave federally-contracted workers in IWJ's Washington D.C. office supporting workers on strikes, joining them in walk-backs and mobilizing leaders from an interfaith community to support their brave witness to the injustice of an unfair wage, poor working conditions and rampant wage theft.