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Policy: Labor

Federally contracted sandwich maker wants $18 an hour through executive order

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Labor,Minimum Wage,Spencer Brown

Although President Obama's executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors doesn't go into effect until Jan. 1, those same contractors set to get a raise are already asking for more money.

In a protest that shut down the streets in front of Union Station on Tuesday morning, dozens of federal contractors (and some children) donned Rosie the Riveter costumes and waved signs asking for a "good jobs executive order." Others held up revised versions of the original Rosie the Riveter poster, with her now saying "We CAN'T do it on $10.10/hr!"


Oh how far we have fallen.

After repeated warnings from police officers to remove themselves from the middle of the street near Capitol Hill, the group dispersed and ditched their picket signs in lieu of free lunches. (Is such a thing as a free lunch?) I was able to catch up with one protester who spoke earlier during the protest, Keyona Dandridge. She lives in Washington and is employed at the Potbelly sandwich shop at Union Station.

"We want the president to sign a good jobs executive order," she said. "We need benefits, better pay, to get rid of bad employers." When I asked Dandridge about the President's previous executive order that will raise her pay from $9.50 (the D.C. minimum wage) to $10.10 per hour, she called the President's actions "a good start" but said that "it's just not enough." Citing the amount of work that contractors do as well as the fact that they work in federal buildings, she concluded, "we deserve more."

I asked Dandridge just how much she felt she deserved or what would constitute a living wage for her, and she responded, "at least $15, $18 for the amount of work that I do."

Assuming Dandridge worked full-time at Potbelly under her deserved living wage, she'd pull down between $31,000 and $37,000 per year before taxes making your roast beef sandwich for you the next time you hop off a train.

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Spencer Brown

Special to the Examiner
The Washington Examiner

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