More than half a million employees of federal contractors make less than $12 an hour, according to a study by the progressive think tank Demos. When the National Employment Law Project interviewed more than 500 federal contract workers who work in service-industry type jobs, sew military uniforms and drive trucks, more than 70 percent made less than $10 an hour.Progressives have been pushing the president for years to issue an executive order that would require federal agencies to give contracting preference to contractors that pay at least $10.10 an hour. This is something advocates argue the president can do without consulting Congress, and they point to similar executive orders by presidents Kennedy and Johnson, who raised federal labor standards in regards to equal opportunity and nondiscrimination.Every good argument for raising the federal minimum wage exists here: The existing minimum wage is inadequate and exploitative, and the fact these workers are doing work for, and being paid by, U.S. taxpayers makes it all the more troublesome. The economic lots of federal contract workers would be improved, and more money would end up going into the economy.
January 16, 2014 at 12:50 PM EST