Bernie Sanders pushes new pay hike for federal contractors

Greg Nash

Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is pressing President Obama to act again to give a pay raise to the lowest earning employees of firms who do business with the federal government.

Sanders, backed by a group of Senate Democrats, wants the president to take executive action directing government agencies to give preference to contractors who pay “a living wage,” which would give them an advantage when competing for
government contracts.

{mosads}The senators don’t specify a wage they believe companies should have to pay their workers in order to get preference when applying for government contracts, but Sanders has previously suggested a $15 per hour national minimum wage.

“The federal government continues to be America’s largest low-wage job creator, subsidizing poverty-level wages through taxpayer-funded contracts,” the senators wrote Friday in a letter to Obama. “We therefore call on you to issue an executive order giving preference in government contracting to ‘model employers’ who pay a living wage, offer fair healthcare and retirement benefits.”

In addition to Sanders, Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Barbara Mikulski (Md.), Al Franken (Minn.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Chris Murphy (Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Martin Heinrich (N.M.). signed the letter to the president.

The letter to Obama comes as Democrats are homing in on increasing the minimum wage as a top campaign issue ahead of the 2016 election.

Separately from Friday’s letter, Democrats are also pushing to increase the federal minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020 from the current minimum wage of $7.25.

Last year, Obama raised the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 per hour. The senators said “now it’s time to further build on that momentum” and help bolster the middle class.

“The stroke of your pen can have [a] transformative impact for millions of workers,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to harness the power of the presidency to help these workers achieve the American dream.” 

Tags Al Franken Barbara Mikulski Ben Cardin Bernie Sanders Chris Murphy Debbie Stabenow Dick Durbin Ed Markey Elizabeth Warren Jack Reed Jeff Merkley Martin Heinrich Mazie Hirono Richard Blumenthal Robert Menendez Ron Wyden Sheldon Whitehouse Tammy Baldwin

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