Hundreds of low-wage employees of federal contractors walked off the job on Tuesday morning, demanding that President Obama sign legislation or an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay higher wages. The Washington, D.C., strike is led by a new campaign called Good Jobs Nation, formed earlier this month.
On the same day that the Good Jobs Nation campaign was officially launched, Demos published a report finding that federal contracts directly subsidize over half a million low-wage jobs, defined as jobs which pay below $12 per hour. Once Medicare spending, infrastructure funds, and similar programs were included, the federal government was found to subsidize nearly 2 million such jobs.
“I can’t even afford to get an apartment or raise my daughter properly because of the money that I’m making,” said Jonathan Ross, one of the D.C. strikers. Ross works at the Constitution Café, a privately managed restaurant in the Smithsonian Institute’s American History Museum. He told MSNBC that after four years of being employed at the restaurant, he still makes only $9.71 an hour.