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Worker movement gets partial victory from wage increase

The impetus for President Obama's announcement that he would raise the minimum wage for workers covered under federal contracts to $10.10 appears to be a nod to a coalition of civil rights and labor groups known as Good Jobs Nation. Since May of last year, the joint coalition was the organizer of seven District of Columbia demonstrations at which participants demanded greater collective bargaining for federal vendors' employees along with better working conditions and a higher rate of pay.

The group is calling President Obama's pledge a partial victory, acknowledging it sets a new wage standard for the debate in states across America over the rate of pay for minimum wage earners and addresses the issue of income inequality in our nation.

In his annual State of the Union address, the president urged lawmakers to "Say yes. Give America a raise," a call-to-action for Congress to pass a bill that would increase the minimum wage from its current rate of $7.25 to Obama's proposed $10.10.

The president went on to say that "If you cook our troops' meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn't have to live in poverty." He went on to promise the signing of an executive order to raise the rate for federal vendors' employees.

The deputy director of the labor group Change to Win sees the president's mandate as a symbolic effort that may influence private sector employers such as corporate behemoths Wal-Mart and McDonalds. The mandate will affect those employees on military bases responsible for food preparation and clean-up, laundry workers and souvenir shop employees in federal museums.

Also in his address, President Obama called upon individual states to raise their minimum wages and for business leaders to give their workers raises.

Raising federal minimum wage laws through executive order impacts only a fraction of the American workforce. If your employer violates the minimum wage law or is in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, you may be entitled to damages. Scheduling a consultation with an attorney experienced in Missouri employment laws is the first step to righting a wage injustice.

Source:, "Obama’s minimum-wage plan answers calls from recent worker movement" Josh Hicks, Jan. 29, 2014

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