Friday, January 31, 2014

144.1 - Good news: Some federally-contracted workers to get $10.10 minimum wage

Good news: Some federally-contracted workers to get $10.10 minimum wage

We have some sorta good news to start off the day. Before the State of the Union speech, I saw a headline along the lines of "leftists and progressives prepare themselves to be disappointed in the speech." And lo and behold, we weren't disappointed - about being disappointed. Like way too much of what comes out of President Hopey-Changey, there was a lot of lofty talk and almost no specifics, a lot of "I will do this and I will do that by executive order" without actually doing any of it.

With one exception, and that's the good news.

Under an executive order announced by the White House in advance of the speech, some low-wage, federally-contracted workers will have a new minimum wage of $10.10 per hour. The full scope of the program is not yet clear, but it could mean a raise of up to $2.85 an hour for hundreds of thousands of workers under future federal contracts.

But you'll notice that already the effect has been limited: It applies to future contracts, not to current ones and doesn't even apply to renewals of current ones unless other other terms are changed.

What's more, it fails to address the other two issues raised by groups like Good Jobs Nation, the outfit organizing the rapid-fire one day strikes by federally-contracted workers such as, to cite an example from last week, the one by non-union cleaning and concessions workers at the Pentagon. The other two concerns are to strengthen enforcement of labor law against scofflaw contractors and beef up workers’ organizing rights because without those, the increased pay will mean little to those facing employer illegalities and retaliation as they struggle to form unions so they can raise themselves up rather than having to depend on future executive orders.

Still, despite the order's shortcomings and limitations and failures - something which always seems to be true of any supposed improvements coming out of the White House which sound great until you check the details - let's still take some pleasure in the fact that anyone's minimum pay is being raised and especially take pleasure in the knowledge that it was militant labor action over the past several months that made it happen.

[Note: The image is not of the labor action at the Pentagon but of an earlier one at a federally-run museum. Same type of workers, same concerns, same demands, part of the same effort, but different time and place and used to illustrate the "militant labor action over the past several months."]


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