|A Good Jobs Nation strike last year in Washington, D.C.|
Federal contract workers who staged a series of sudden one-day strikes in Washington, D.C., can claim victory as the Labor Department yesterday announced a hike in the minimum wage.
The strikes, part of the Good Jobs Nation campaign, began last year with demands for a raise and the right to join a union. Striking workers served food or cleaned Union Station, Smithsonian Museums and the Ronald Reagan Building -- all owned by the federal government. The federal government indirectly employs more low-wage workers than Walmart and McDonald's combined.
The strikers were supported by the Change to Win labor federation, of which the Teamsters are a member.
Yesterday, Labor Secretary Tom Perez announced a new rule to give about 200,000 federal contract employees a raise to $10.10 from $7.25 on Jan. 1. The Labor Department has also started to investigate allegations of wage theft.
Meanwhile, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday ordered the minimum wage raised for employees of businesses in buildings subsidized by the city. According to the city's website,
Effective immediately, commercial tenants at projects that receive more than $1 million in City subsidy will be covered by Living Wage provisions, and the Living Wage itself will be raised to from $11.90 to $13.13 per hour—likely reaching $15.22 per hour by 2019.
In a statement yesterday, Perez said,
The underlying principle couldn’t be simpler: no one who works full-time in America should have to raise their family in poverty. And if you serve meals to our troops for a living, for example, then you shouldn’t have to go on food stamps in order to serve a meal to your family at home. By raising the minimum wage for these workers, we’re not just upholding the president’s promise, but the fundamental American promise that hard work should be rewarded with a fair wage.
Our action today will make a big difference for workers like Jackeline Osorio. She’s a 21-year-old mother from Annandale, Virginia, who serves food to military personnel and Defense Department officials in the Pentagon food court. “I don’t make enough money, and I have to pay some of my bills late,” she says. “$10.10 an hour would help me pay my bills on time.”
California Rep. George Miller wants Congress to raise the federal minimum wage for all workers to $10.10 an hour. Miller said in a statement,
Our outdated minimum wage leaves too many families in this country struggling to make ends meet. Until Congress acts, they will continue to suffer. Unfortunately, Republicans refuse to allow an up or down vote on H.R. 1010 and remain out of step with public opinion.
Nationwide, support for increasing the minimum wage is unequivocal. Americans know that it is good for the economy, good for businesses’ bottom line, and good for individual workers. Congress must get on board with the rest of the country and raise the minimum wage.
Rep. Miller is the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee and the House author of the Fair Minimum Wage Act (H.R. 1010), which was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). The Miller-Harkin bill would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 in three annual stages and index it to inflation thereafter, while also raising the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in more than 20 years.