During his State of the Union address tonight, President Obama will announce plans to issue an executive order giving a raise to low-wage workers on new federal contracts, a move that affects thousands of people in the Washington area, the White House says.
Several times over the past year, workers who serve as janitors and food servers at federal landmarks across Washington have protested their wages, which are usually at or close to the federal minimum of $7.25 and hour or the DC minimum of $8.25 an hour. The most recent demonstration came last week, when about 50 janitorial and food-service workers at the Pentagon walked off the job. Similar protests have been carried out at Union Station, the Ronald Reagan Building, and the Smithsonian Institution.
Nationwide, the federal government—through contracts and grants—funds nearly 2 million jobs paying less than $12 an hour, according to the think tank Demos. Many of those positions are filled by food servers and other service workers on military bases, Demos spokesman Alex Amend says.