Progressive Democrats in Congress this week will ask President Barack Obama to create federal procurement preferences for companies that pay their workers a minimum of $15 an hour and allow them to bargain collectively.
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters Monday that his group would ask Obama to ensure the government does business with these companies first, as a way to set an example for other companies about the need to raise the minimum wage, boost benefits, and allow labor negotiations.
President Barack Obama will soon get a pitch from Democrats about the need to have the government award contacts only to companies that pay a $15 an hour minimum wage. (Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images )
"We're the largest purchasers of goods and services, $1 trillion, whether it’s a contract, a loan or a grant," he said. "And as such, we should be setting the example for the people that work there."
"For those employers that are good employers, that provide minimum wage, a sustainable minimum wage at $15, that provide benefits and opportunity for workers to be represented collectively, I think those merit the full attention and full support of our federal government," he added. "Those that don’t, those that steal wages, those that continue to exploit our workforce, should not reap the benefits of taxpayer dollars."
President Obama has been advocating for a $10.10 federal minimum wage. But because Republicans have opposed it on the grounds that it would reduce jobs for low-wage workers, Obama has only acted on his own to require federal contracts to pay workers a $10.10 hourly minimum.
Grijalva's proposal would still put pressure on all companies to improve work standards for their employees, or face the prospect of not winning a federal contract. While it’s unclear whether Obama would act on such a proposal, Obama has said he’s prepared to act unilaterally on immigration if Congress fails to pass an immigration reform bill.