20,000 signatures reached
To: President Barack Obama
Tell President Obama: Sign a “Model Employer” Executive Order for Low-wage Federal Contract Workers
Sign an executive order to ensure that our taxpayer dollars are spent on “model employer” federal contract companies, who pay their workers a livable wage of at least $15, provide decent benefits like paid leave, and respect collective bargaining rights.
Why is this important?
Hi, my name is Sonia Chavez. My husband and I are federal contract workers who clean the office of the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Each of us only earns $9.50 an hour – even though federal contract wage laws say we should be making at least $15 an hour each in wages and benefits. We are wage theft victims. Our family is owed $40,000 in back pay.
According to the Washington Post (1) federal contract wage laws are poorly enforced. These contract wage laws were designed to ensure that the federal government used its purchasing power to do business with model employers, not ones that undercut good jobs by racing to the bottom on wages.
The Secretary of Education likes to speak about a “Race to the Top” on education. But the truth is we also need a “Race to the Top” on wages. If we made $15 and had a union, we wouldn't have to rely on public aid and charity to feed and clothe our three kids. If we were paid a living wage, we could move to a better neighborhood with good schools, buy school supplies, and save to send our kids to college.
But right now, the American Dream isn’t possible for our kids.
It’s wrong that our taxpayer dollars are being spent to pay contract CEOs huge salaries and bonuses while leaving workers struggling to reach the middle class. According to a report by Demos (2), the U.S. Government is America’s largest low-wage job creator, funding over 2 million poverty jobs through contracts, loans, and grants with private companies. To add insult to injury, many of us are forced to rely on public assistance programs to supplement our meager incomes. That means taxpayers are double-billed – once for the cost of the contract and then again for the cost of public programs like food stamps, Medicaid and Section 8.
That’s why we’re calling on the President to use his executive powers to help low-wage federal contract workers. He can do so by signing a “Model Employer” Executive Order that gives a preference to contractors that pay a living wage of at least $15 an hour, offer decent benefits like paid leave, and respect our right to collectively bargain so we don’t have to go on strike.
The President has demonstrated that executive action can help workers. After low-wage federal contract workers went on strike in Washington, D.C., the President used the 2014 State of the Union to announce that he would sign the $10.10 Minimum Wage Executive Order. The President’s bold leadership set-off a chain reaction. In the following year, the CEOs of major companies – such as The Gap, IKEA, Wal-Mart and McDonald’s – boosted starting pay, mayors issued executive orders to raise wages, and state and local governments passed minimum wage hikes. In addition, the President also signed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order which encouraged cities and states to adopt similar measures to end wage theft.
When the President leads, America follows. President Obama has said that income inequality is the defining challenge of our time, and that he would take executive action to help the middle class.(3) Here is his opportunity to lead by example and lift millions of low-wage federal contract workers into the middle class. Here is his opportunity to lead the nation once again before he leave office.
Sign the petition and let the workers know you have our backs.
1. Lydia DePillis, "Why the federal government still sometimes doesn’t obey its own minimum wage laws," (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/04/10/why-the-federal-government-still-sometimes-doesnt-obey-its-own-minimum-wage-laws/) Washington Post, April 10, 2015.
2. Amy Traub & Robert Hiltonsmith, "Underwriting Bad Jobs: How Our Tax Dollars Are Funding Low-Wage Work and Fueling Inequality," (http://www.demos.org/sites/default/files/publications/UnderwritingBadJobs-Final-2.pdf) Demos, May, 2013.
3. Philip J. Victor , "Obama calls income inequality ‘defining challenge of our time,'" (http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/12/4/obama-calls-incomeinequalitydefiningchallengeofourtime.html) Al Jazeera, December 4, 2013