WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — President Barack Obama will announce his intention to sign an executive order that will increase the minimum wage of federal contract employees to $10.10 per hour during Tuesday’s State of the Union address, according to CBS News.
The wages would take effect when current contracts are renewed.
Obama will use Tuesday’s speech to push lawmakers for a minimum wage increase for other workers.
The announcement comes amid a demonstrations and walkouts from fast-food workers and labor organizers for higher wages. Protesters had been seeking $15 an hour.
Fast-food workers who are under federal contract protested outside the Air and Space Museum on the National Mall in D.C. last month, calling for Obama to make an executive order requiring a living wage. D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton joined the protesters and backed the living wage in federal contracts.
Julius Waters, a 29-year-old McDonald’s maintenance worker who was among the protesters, said it’s hard making ends meet on his wage of $7.40 an hour.
“I need a better wage for myself, because, right now, I’m relying on aid, and $7.40 is not able to help me maintain taking care of my son. I’m a single parent,” Waters said.
The push for higher pay in the fast-food industry faces an uphill battle. The industry competes aggressively on value offerings and companies have warned that they would need to raise prices if wages were hiked. Most fast-food locations are also owned and operated by franchisees, which lets companies such as McDonald’s Corp., Burger King Worldwide Inc. and Yum Brands Inc. say that they don’t control worker pay.
However, labor advocates have pointed out that companies control many other aspects of restaurant operations through their franchise agreements, including menus, suppliers and equipment.
Fast-food workers have historically been seen as difficult to unionize, given the industry’s high turnover rates. But the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 2 million workers in health care, janitorial and other industries, has been providing considerable organizational and financial support to the push for higher pay over the past year.
Berlin Rosen, a political consulting and public relations firm based in New York City, also has been coordinating communications efforts and connecting organizers with media outlets.
The National Restaurant Association, an industry lobbying group, said most those protesting were union workers and that “relatively few” workers have participated in past actions. It called the demonstrations a “campaign engineered by national labor groups.”
McDonald’s said in a statement that it’s “committed to providing our employees with opportunities to succeed.” The company, based in Oak Brook, Ill., said it offers employees advancement opportunities, competitive pay and benefits.
The current national minimum wage is $7.25.
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