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The Mechanics
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Labor & Worker Rights Sat Mar 06 2010

Obama Administration Has the Right Idea On Living Wage

This is the kind of more creative and simple policy change that a pro-labor government should be showing all the time. Using government to positively improve the quality of life--in a way other than showering employers with benefits in the slim chance they'll pass those benefits on to workers--is genuinely progressive, if not necessarily fundamental reform.

The White House is looking at a new policy that would give an advantage in bidding on government contracts to companies that offer generous benefits and good pay.

But business groups opposing the idea maintain it would shut out smaller businesses from competing for more than $500 billion a year in federal contracts and increase government procurement costs.

The policy is known as "high road" contracting and could draw the Obama administration into a larger debate over whether the government should use public purse strings to strengthen the middle class and promote higher labor standards.

Advocates of the plan include unions. They say too many jobs financed by government contracts come with low wages and limited benefits and support companies that violate employment laws.

The Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank, estimates that nearly 20 percent of the 2 million federal contract workers in the U.S. earn less than the poverty threshold wage of $9.91 per hour. As many as 22 million workers are employed by federal contractors.

 
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Dennis Fritz / March 6, 2010 9:29 AM

Don't hold your breath on this. Remember the Employee Free Choice Act, the most pro-union bill to hit Congress in years? Obama's support for it was so feeble the bill died in committee. Why would his support of something like this be any more vigorous?

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Feature

Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...

Civics

Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
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