Obama to raise minimum wage for federal contractors

Tribune Washington BureauJanuary 29, 2014 

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama will order companies that do business with the federal government to pay their workers a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour as part of his effort to advance his agenda without cooperation from Congress.

The president announced plans to sign the new executive order in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, according to a White House fact sheet. The order will apply to new contracts between the government and companies that supply it with goods and services.

The order would reach only a fraction of the millions of minimum-wage workers in the United States, but it would provide a raise to several hundred thousand people. Most of those affected are janitors who clean federal buildings, cafeteria workers and some laborers on federal construction projects.

Obama also called for a minimum-wage increase in his State of the Union address last year. White House officials have focused on pushing legislation drafted by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., that would lift the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10.

In the face of solid opposition from Republicans, who argue the move would

hurt employers and slow job growth, the wage bill has not gotten very far. Some Democratic strategists believe, however, that it could get through Congress this year, with members facing reelection.

In the meantime, as the president tries to rebound from a bruising year, the White House is eager to show Obama is moving ahead with his plans, even if only in increments.

The president's prime-time speech highlighted several other initiatives -- on job training, long-term unemployment and education -- that don't require congressional approval.

Obama is scheduled to travel later this week to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin to promote the plans. He's slated to visit a Costco in Lanham, Md., on Wednesday.

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