Building on momentum across the country for the federal government to raise the minimum wage, a group of Democratic senators are bringing the populist message to President Obama, asking him to take action in ways they can’t in Congress.
A group of 18 senators penned a letter to Obama Friday, asking that he designate the federal government as a “model employer.” Obama last year made waves after he issued an executive order raising the minimum wage to $10.10 for new federal contract workers. Senators now want to see him take that a step further.
“We therefore call on you to issue an executive order giving preference in government contracting to ‘model employers’ who pay a living wage, offer fair healthcare and retirement benefits, grant paid leave for sickness and care-giving, provide full-time hours and stable schedules, and give workers a voice through collective bargaining so they do not need to strike to be heard,” the senators, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Al Franken of Minnesota, write.
Nationwide strikes and protests have been on the rise with calls for employers to pay workers $15 an hour and allow them to effectively unionize. In recent months, U.S. retailers across the country – Wal-Mart, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Target among others – have answered those calls by issuing modest wage hikes.