email from Jim Dean, 1/23/14
The president’s State of the Union speech is the most watched and analyzed speech of the year usually, yet they almost always end up being forgettable — lots of talk, but very little action. Wouldn’t it be great if President Obama could break some actual news at next Tuesday’s address?
What if I told you that he could? There is something President Obama could do right now to make life better for as many as two million low-wage workers — and there is nothing Republicans could do to stop it. With one executive order, President Obama has the power to give preferential treatment to federal contractors who pay higher wages, giving a de facto minimum wage increase to hundreds of thousands of workers.
Last week, Obama told his cabinet that if Republicans keep obstructing legislation, he wouldn’t hesitate to take action without them: “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone. And I’ll use that pen to sign executive orders and executive actions and administrative orders that will move the ball forward.”
So what are we waiting for? Now is the perfect time to take a big stand for American workers. And a joint session of Congress would be a great place to announce such a bold move.
Tell President Obama to announce in next Tuesday’s State of the Union speech that he is signing an executive order to raise the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors.
Federal contractors employ hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers, from concession stand vendors to security detail to janitors in federal buildings, who would all benefit greatly from such an order. And a dramatic action like this would send ripples through the marketplace, building momentum for living wage fights across the country.
The President says he wants to focus on reviving the economy and closing the opportunity gap in next week’s big speech. I can’t think of a better way for him to make his words and his second term agenda resonate with everyday folks than proof that he is willing to take real, direct action to help workers who are struggling.
These low wage federal workers can’t keep on waiting — it is time for President Obama to get off the fence. Put his money where his mouth is. Use that pen.
Tell President Obama that we want this year’s State of the Union to be more than just words. Take action to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors now.
Thank you for standing up for working families,
Jim Dean, Chair
Democracy for America