As was expected, President Obama unveiled his plan to hike the minimum wage for people hired on federal contracts, during the State of the Union address last night.
The increase, from the current level of $7.25 an hour to ten dollars and ten cents, does not affect companies’ current contracts, unless a contract renewal includes other changes.
"What he’s decided to do is use the tools at his disposal," says Jennifer Epps-Addison, executive director of Wisconsin Jobs Now, which advocates for increases to the minimum wage.
"He reached into his toolbox and said, ‘If I had the power, I would raise wages for every worker in the country, but since I can’t do that, what I can do is use my executive authority to raise wages for federally contracted workers,'" she says.
Obama's executive order comes amid a larger national debate over the minimum wage and local debates over so-called “living wage” legislation. Epps-Addison says such a change could mean a lot for workers here in Wisconsin.
"I think that is ultimately the call of this decade – the call of this generation is to restore fairness at work and make sure that, no matter what type of job you’re working, that you have enough to support your family," Epps-Addison says.
A Marquette Law School poll out this week showed strong support for increasing the minimum wage, but less support for raising it to ten dollars an hour.