Today, President Barack Obama honored his promise from last month’s State of the Union address to raise the minimum wage for some workers indirectly employed by the federal government. In a new executive order, he raised the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, effective Jan. 1, 2015. The White House estimates the order will affect hundreds of thousands of workers employed by private companies with government contracts. [...]
Labor groups and union supporters reported they were pleased with the final shape of the executive order.
“It’s more expansive than a lot of people were expecting, so yes, we are very pleased,” said Amy Traub, senior policy analyst with the pro-labor think tank Demos. Demos had lobbied the White House for the broadest possible language in the executive order. Some advocates feared that the order could have been worded narrowly, in a way that would leave out food concessions workers at national parks and elsewhere. Traub was pleased to see these workers included, as well as tipped workers—who currently receive a subminimum wage—and workers with disabilities, whom the Secretary of Labor initially said would be excluded.
Demos agrees with the White House’s estimate that the order will directly affect hundreds of thousands of workers, though Traub notes that it may take two to three years. “It doesn’t immediately affect contracts that are already in place, but will affect those contracts when it comes time for them to be renewed. … So that’s a good start,” says Traub.