President Raises Minimum Wage For Federal Contractors

A construction worker pauses at the Second Avenue Subway project site in New York, Jan. 10, 2014. SPENCER PLATT/GETTY
The president will raise the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10, NBC News has learned.
He will announce the executive order during Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

This means that new contracts for construction workers, the people who wash dishes on military bases, and janitors who would have made less than $10.10 will be hired at a higher rate.

“A higher minimum wage for federal contract workers will provide good value for the federal government and hence good value for the taxpayer,” a release announcing the move said. “Boosting wages will lower turnover and increase morale, and will lead to higher productivity overall.”

It is the latest executive order the president has used to accomplish some of his goals without the approval of Congress; prominent Republicans have criticized the president for what Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida called an abuse of power.

When a White House spokesman said that more executive orders were in the works for 2014,Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul retorted that “it sounds vaguely like a threat.”

“I think it also has a certain amount of arrogance in the sense that one of the fundamental principles of our country were the checks and balances,” Paul said on CNN.

But the release argues that the president is “using his executive authority to lead by example, and will continue to work with Congress to finish the job for all Americans by passing the Harkin-Miller bill.”

The existing minimum wage bills, proposed by Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. George Miller in both chambers, would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for all workers in $0.95 increments and tie it to inflation. It would raise the minimum wage for tipped workers as well.

Washington Post poll out on Monday found that a slim majority, 52% of Americans, approve of the president’s Congress-bypassing executive orders.  (The sampling error is +/- 3.5 points.)

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