WASHINGTON — President Obama‘s executive order to raise the minimum wage for workers under future federal contracts includes a key provision to address concerns raised by advocates for disabled workers, according to the White House.
The president, who is set to sign the order at a ceremony in the White House East Room on Wednesday afternoon, announced his plan to take unilateral action at last month’s State of the Union Address and hike the minimum wage for low-wage workers to $10.10 from the current rate of $7.25.
Almost immediately after announcing his plan, advocates for the physically and intellectually disabled began pressing the White House to include the group among those getting raises. Under a government program that dates back to 1938, employers could pay certain disabled workers subminimum wages — sometimes for a fraction of the prevailing minimum wage.
But with Obama’s executive order, that practice will be discontinued with disabled workers laboring under federal contracts in the future. “Under current law, workers whose productivity is affected because of their disabilities may be paid less than the wage paid to others doing the same job under certain specialized certificate programs.” The White House says Obama will continue to push Congress to back legislation that would gradually raise the minimum wage for all workers to $10.10 by the end of his presidency, but the effort faces stiff resistance in the GOP-controlled House.
The executive order is intended to cover people who perform janitorial, kitchen work and other low-wage services on behalf of federal contractors. The action is eventually expected to help roughly 250,000 workers, but it is unclear how many of those are disabled workers who receive subminimum wage under section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.