Sanders, Durbin Tell President Federal Workers Deserve ‘Fair Wage’

WASHINGTON, May 15 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) led an effort today to help low-wage federal contract workers get a pay raise. 

Sanders, joined by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and 16 other senators, wrote President Obama with a request that he ‘lead by example’ when it comes to paying federal contract workers by providing a preference to contractors who pay a living wage. 

“The federal government continues to be America’s largest low-wage job creator, subsidizing poverty-level wages through taxpayer-funded contracts,” wrote Sanders and others. “We urge you to harness the power of the presidency to help workers.” 

In April, Sanders attended a rally outside the U.S. Capitol by federal and Senate contract workers protesting their pay. Last year, Sanders led a successful effort in the Senate to encourage the White House to issue an executive order requiring federal contract workers to be paid at least $10.10 an hour. 

“Now is the time to declare that the federal government will invest our taxpayer dollars to incentivize model employers that commit to creating good jobs and to rebuilding America’s ailing middle class,” wrote the senators.  The letter was sent to the president today. 

The renewed push for the president to make the federal government a ‘model employer’ with a higher wage comes amid efforts to raise wages for all Americans. Sanders has said that the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is not sufficient to keep millions of Americans from working full time yet still living in poverty.

Although today’s letter does not spell out a wage, Sanders has previously said a fair wage for workers should be $15 an hour. Sanders letter to the president can be found here and his previous letter to the Senate Rules Committee about paying a living wage to Senate contract workers can be found here.

Also signing onto the letter were Democratic Sens. 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.).