To: President Barack Obama

President Obama must do more to lift federal contract workers out of poverty

President Obama must do more to lift federal contract workers out of poverty

We urge you to issue an executive order that directs federal contractors to pay living wages, provide decent benefits and bargain with their employees. By doing so, you will ensure the federal government sets higher standards by ensuring that taxpayer dollars create good middle-class jobs.

Why is this important?

Today, my coworkers and I walked off the job at the U.S. Capitol to highlight the plight of low-wage workers under federal contracts. We were joined by low-wage federal contract workers from other federal buildings in the D.C. area, representing 2 million working across the nation.

I work at the Capitol Visitor's Center making $12.46 an hour. My coworkers and I are the ones who labor invisibly in the basement of this great landmark. We welcome the tourists, serve them food, clean the tables and empty the trash bins.

Because I make so little, I qualify for government food stamps. Even though I was hired as a full-time worker, my hours were cut without warning. I don’t get any sort of benefits such as health care insurance or retirement savings from my employer. I'm fifty years old and I won't be able to retire, because I can't save money when I'm struggling to afford basic needs like paying rent and putting food on the table.

As a father, I want to help my kid out, because college tuition is expensive. My ex-wife and I are trying to help our daughter graduate from college, but I’m afraid the tuition checks will bounce.

We are grateful to President Obama for signing executive orders to raise the minimum wage and stop wage theft on federal contracts. But workers like me need more than the minimum to survive.1

President Obama must do more to help federal contract workers who are struggling to live a modest comfortable life in the middle class. We need him to issue an executive order to make sure federal contractors create jobs that pay living wages and allow us to have a voice, so we can bargain for paid time-off, paid sick-days, decent healthcare and benefits.

That’s why I joined my co-workers to strike against poverty wages. I live paycheck to paycheck. It's wrong that our government awards lucrative government contracts to profitable corporations while people employed under federal contracts are paid poverty wages. A report by Demos estimated that if the President awarded contracts to model employers that create good jobs that pay at least $15 an hour, provide benefits and the right to form a union, we could place millions of Americans on the path to the middle class. It’s as simple as a stroke of a pen.2

The President has the power to make life better for millions of federal contract workers like me. Our President can guarantee that we are paid what we are worth. He said he is willing to take executive action to help the middle class. Well, here is his opportunity to fulfill his legacy.

Sign our petition to let the President know that you have our backs. By showing solidarity with workers, President Obama can make sure we don’t have to keep striking to take care of our families basic needs and have a chance to succeed in today’s economy.

1.Obama’s wage promise answers calls of growing movement. Washington Post, 1-29-2014
http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal_government/obamas-wage-promise-answers-calls-of-growing-movement/2014/01/29/a16c82de-8904-11e3-a5bd-844629433ba3_story.html

2.Underwriting Good Jobs: How to Place Over 20 Million Americans on a Pathway to the Middle Class Using Federal Purchasing Power. Demos, 6-18-2014
http://www.demos.org/sites/default/files/publications/UnderwritingGoodJobs_2.pdf

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Updates

2014-12-09 10:50:03 -0800

20,000 signatures reached

2014-11-14 18:10:42 -0800

10,000 signatures reached

2014-11-13 14:28:30 -0800

5,000 signatures reached

2014-11-13 10:34:35 -0800

1,000 signatures reached

2014-11-13 10:23:51 -0800

500 signatures reached

2014-11-13 10:19:09 -0800

100 signatures reached

2014-11-13 10:18:34 -0800

50 signatures reached

2014-11-13 09:39:25 -0800

25 signatures reached

2014-11-13 09:11:54 -0800

10 signatures reached