State of the Union = Raise the Minimum Wage
Tonight’s State of the Union address is shaping up to be all about issues driven by labor organizations, perhaps more so than any #SOTU speech in recent memory. Advance reports have made it clear that President Obama will mainly focus on income inequality.
And he’s not just talking about it, he’s also taking action under his plan of not waiting for Congress to act by issuing an Executive order to raise wages for federal contract employees who earn less than $10.10 an hour, according to a breaking news story on the Huffington Post:
President Barack Obama will announce during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address that he’s raising the minimum wage for workers under federal contracts to $10.10 per hour, an administration official told The Huffington Post.
The new policy, to be instituted via executive order, may affect hundreds of thousands of workers whose jobs are supported by federal dollars. The move is designed in part to ratchet up pressure on Congress to pass legislation raising the minimum wage for all workers. The current federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 per hour, and hasn’t been raised since 2009, after the last of a series of increases signed into law by then-President George W. Bush.
The new executive order is part of a broader pledge from the White House to pursue policies that don’t rely on congressional approval. What other policies are in the works, the administration has refused to say.
According to an Obama administration fact sheet, the executive order will cover “workers who are performing services or constructing buildings and are getting paid less than $10.10 an hour.” Those likely to see bumps in future paychecks include dishwashers, food servers and construction workers. Many work in government buildings, but for private employers.
This move will increase pressure on Congress to act on raising the Federal minimum wage. Minimum wage bills, have been proposed by Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. George Miller, and would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for all workers in $0.95 increments and tie it to inflation. It would also increase raise the minimum wage for tipped workers. although that idea is opposed by some in the restaurant industry. Numerous bills have also been introduced in state legislatures to increase the minimum wage, as well as in cities like Seattle and Washington DC.
As part of the theater that often surrounds the SOTU speech, Representative Linda Linda Sanchez has invited a worker from an LA McDondald’s to be her guest at the #SOTU speech. The worker is a member of the fast food movement that has held demonstrations around the United States over the last year, pressuring fast food companies to pay a minimum wage of $15 and hour.