In last night’s State of the Union address President Obama announced that he would sign an executive order to raise the wages of federally contracted employees from $7.25 per hour to $10.10. But according to the Associated Press and White House press statement, the executive order “won’t take effect until 2015 at the earliest and doesn’t affect existing federal contracts, only new ones”, leaving current workers under existing contracts with the poverty wage of $7.25. While the increase to $10.10 is progress, much more should and could be done.
According to Demos report, UNDERWRITING EXECUTIVE EXCESS, “our federal government is awarding contracts to companies that fail to pay nearly 560,000 people enough to meet basic needs.” While rewarding private contractors executives with $23.9 billion in annual compensation.
In 2013 I traveled back and forth to Washington, D.C. with Samuel DeWtitt Proctor Conference as they joined hands with Change to Win, worker advocacy groups and other faith-based allies to form Good Jobs Nation, a campaign for a living wage. We stood in solidarity with low-wage workers who put their livelihood in jeopardy by walking off the job and staging mass protests at Union Station, The Smithsonian and even the White House.
I stop today to honor Dr. Iva Carruthers, Rev. Dr. Frederick Haynes, III, Mrs. Mary Crayton, and all of our allies that helped to amplify the voices of the workers. I am glad our message was heard by the White House, but we can not celebrate while workers continue to work for poverty wages. We must put pressure on Congress and remind the President of his own words, “… if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty.”
We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest