Every year the federal government pays private contractors $1 trillion to to do everything from sew military uniforms to clean the bathrooms at federal buildings to sell food and souvenirs at national landmarks. Many of these contractors are paying their workers poverty wages -- sometimes even less than minimum wage! -- while their CEOs make millions. Altogether, the federal government creates more bad jobs than anyone else.
This month, hundreds of contracted workers in federal buildings in Washington have staged a series of bold strikes demanding that President Obama sign an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay living wages. As taxpayers, this is our fight too -- we need to raise our voices and tell the President that we want our tax dollars creating good jobs and rebuilding the middle class.
Sign our petition to President Obama: ensure that federal contractors pay a living wage.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In the days of the New Deal and the Great Society, the federal government wanted to act as a model employer it passed laws requiring government contractors to pay prevailing wages. But those laws aren’t working anymore, and millions of workers getting paid with our tax dollars aren’t making enough to afford basic necessities like rent or childcare. Many have experienced wage theft so that they take home less than the legal minimum wage. The yawning gulf between wealthy contractors and the workers they exploit has helped make Washington, DC one of the most unequal cities in America.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama said it’s time“to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth—a rising, thriving middle class.” If the president wants to put his money where his mouth is, he can start right away. By signing an executive order requiring federal contractors pay a living wage, he can to lift hundreds of thousands of workers out of poverty with the stroke of a pen.