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How Obama Can Bypass Tea Party Congress (and Raise Fast Food Worker Wages)


The White House has offered “no response” to a months-old call from congressional Democrats to bypass Congress and use executive action to raise workers’ wages, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus told Salon Tuesday afternoon.

“It wasn’t responded to,” said Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ). “I mean, the response would have been, ‘We’re working on it, we’re looking into it,’ ‘We feel it’s a good idea,’ or, ‘No, we’re not going to do it.’ Any of those is a response. We received none of that.” Grijalva pledged that, starting with a Thursday rally at the National Air and Space Museum, congressional progressives would become “much more public and much more insistent” in pressing the president to act. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. [...]

Grijalva and forty-nine House Democrats wrote to Obama in September to urge he use executive authority to require better labor standards for workers employed through federal government contracts with private companies. That letter followed a prior July letter by Grijalva and others, and a handful of one-day strikes since May by cleaning and concessions workers in DC federal buildings. A report by the progressive think tank Demos estimated that about two million workers with taxpayer-funded jobs make $12 an hour or less.

As I’ve reported, striking workers have also alleged violations of federal law, spurring a Department of Labor investigation and securing a meeting with the administrator of the General Services Administration. The work stoppages were part of an effort backed by the Service Employees International Union, which is also the key national player behind the wave of one-day fast food strikes which organizers have promised will escalate to involve one hundred cities tomorrow.