(NNPA)—In President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, he appealed to our nation’s employers to raise wages from the current minimum of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. He has already signed an executive order that requires federal contractors to be paid $10.10 an hour, an only appropriate move since so many workers on federal contracts are living in poverty.
The plight of federal contract workers at the bottom is especially galling, given that CEOs at the top have no limits in what they can be paid. Many earn more than president Obama’s $400,000 salary. They are awarded contracts by coming up with a minimum bid, which too often means paying people the lowest possible wage.
There are many consequences to workers earning so little money that they often work at a level below the poverty line. The federal government through food stamps, subsidized health care, and a number of other well-deserved benefits subsidizes those with families surviving on low wages. They are also stigmatized by receiving government help. Why not pay these folks enough to make it on their own, instead of railing about those who “depend” on the government?
When women with children earn a minimum wage, they are challenged to take care of their children. If there is not affordable childcare, or a family support system, many of these women are desperate to figure out a way to work and find someone to take care of their children. In Henrico County, Virginia, which is part of the Richmond metropolitan are, 23-year-old Brittney R. Downing admitted her role in the deaths of her two children, aged 3 months and 20 months.