“A year of action:” 2014 State of the Union

In his fifth State of the Union address, President Obama takes on raising the minimum wage– at least for federal contractors

This Tuesday, President Obama said that workers employed through federal contracts deserve a minimum wage of from $10.10 (up from $7.25).

“I’m hoping for an increase in the minimum wage across the board,” said Simone Sonnier-Jang, who is a fast food worker putting herself through phlebotomy and medical assistance classes. “If McDonald’s can afford to have commercials running on TV, they can help the people who are helping them. The top should help the bottom, as the bottom helps the top.”

“A lot of my co-workers have bachelor’s degrees,” Sonnier-Jang reminds us. “It’s not just people beginning their lives. There are a lot of people working in fast food who are trying to move forward in life, and have to support families and buy text books.”

This summer, the Economic Policy Institute analyzed who exactly would benefit from a minimum wage raise, and they found that the average low-wage worker holds down at least one full-time job, and most are women. Over 1/4 have children, and over 1/3 are over 40 years old. Raising the minimum wage could help reduce the number of the “working poor–” people with jobs who still can’t make ends meet. And if we can ease their struggle, fewer Americans would be forced to rely on food assistance programs such as SNAP.

In a ceremonial touch, First Lady Michelle Obama sat with several fast food workers and Punch Pizza CEO John Soranno, who raised the minimum wage at his restaurants to over $10 an hour.

You can find the full transcript of the State of the Union here.

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About Holly

Holly Jensen is a writer and poet who has worked with nonprofits and businesses for over a decade. She also serves as editor of The Ghazal Page, an international literary journal.
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