Nader Says President Obama Should Be Ashamed that Federal Government, Through its Outsourced Corporate Contractors, is the Largest Single Employer of Low-Wage Workers in the United States

For more information contact:
Ralph Nader or Jeff Musto
[email protected]

June 25, 2013

On the 75th anniversary of the first lasting federal minimum wage law, the Fair Labor Standards Act, Ralph Nader sent President Obama a letter urging him to sign an executive order guaranteeing federal employees – including those employed through contractors – a $10.70 minimum wage, which would catch them back up with 1968, adjusting for inflation.

There are 3.6 million Americans working for pay at or below the federal minimum wage. And thirty million low-wage workers are making less today, adjusted for inflation, than they did 45 years ago in 1968. Had the federal minimum wage simply kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would be $10.70 per hour today instead of the current $7.25.

“Unfortunately, 75 years after the Fair Labor Standards Act, the woefully inadequate federal minimum wage leaves millions of Americans and their children struggling to get by and to afford necessities like food, housing, transportation, and health care. While the minimum wage has lost nearly a third of its inflation-adjusted value, costs for daily necessities have been increasing – often at rates above inflation,” said Nader.

 One month ago, in late May, federally contracted low-wage workers walked off the job and participated in some of the larger strikes the nation’s capital has seen in recent years. Some of the strikers even explained that, despite being a contractor for the federal government, they were being paid below the federal minimum wage, which invites President Obama’s administration’s immediate investigation.

 “This is disgraceful,” Nader said. “The federal government should be providing a shining example of fair and just treatment of their workers for other employers to follow. And absent that – of all employers, the federal government should at least be able to enforce its own woefully inadequate minimum wage laws to protect the workers it employs – even those it employs through contractors.”

 A report from Demos revealed that the federal government employs – often indirectly through contractors – the largest number of low-wage workers in the country. More even than Walmart and McDonalds combined. Nader was careful to point out that this would be no substitute for a lasting increase in the federal minimum wage – but pointed out to President Obama that “an executive order provides you with an option to avoid the morass in Congress and effect real positive change in millions of low-wage workers’ lives and to affect that change now.”

 “Is it not time, after four and a half years, for you to leave your mark, to show Americans what type of President you want to be remembered as, and to be a leader on this issue. Millions of workers throughout the country deserve a minimum wage that catches up with 1968,” concluded Nader.

See the full letter here