New Brief Underscores Presidential Authority to Raise Pay Standards for Workers on Federal Contract

Washington, D.C. — Late yesterday, a coalition of organizations and labor unions, including the National Employment Law Project (NELP), Communications Workers of America (CWA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), and the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), represented by Democracy Forward, filed a new amicus brief urging the court to reject efforts to halt the wage increase for workers of companies that use federal lands and all who work on federal contracts. The brief highlights the consistency between the Biden administration’s Executive Order that raised the minimum wage to $15 for employees of federal contractors and other federal laws addressing wage standards. The brief also documents the ways that increased wages can help close racial and gender wage gaps. 

This case, Bradford v. DOL, is on appeal from the Colorado District Court. On February 17, 2022, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary injunction, blocking the $15 minimum wage for seasonal recreational services while the appeal proceeds. Meanwhile, Attorneys General in Louisiana, Mississippi, Idaho, Indiana, Nebraska and South Carolina, led by Texas and Arizona, continue to seek to cut workers’ wages in those states through separate lawsuits challenging the Department of Labor’s rule. Additional background on this case is available here

The groups issued the following statement about the importance of increased minimum wage requirements for employees of those who choose to contract with the federal government: 

“Decades of research show that higher minimum wages have far-ranging benefits for workers and local economies – and decades of precedent affirm that President Biden has the authority to raise pay standards for workers on federal contracts and that this authority is not in conflict with federal laws addressing minimum wage. As our brief makes clear, the case for increasing the federal contractor minimum wage is not only legally sound, but also good for government services and the economy – from increased employee morale and productivity to reduced turnover, absenteeism, and income inequality for women and people of color. Additionally, raising pay for up to 390,000 federal contractors, who are disproportionately women, Black, and Latinx workers, will help to narrow the racial and gender wage gaps in federal contractor workforces. We will continue to urge the court to reject any challenges to cut worker’s wages.” 

A copy of the brief is available here

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Press Contacts

Emily Singer 

Democracy Forward 

[email protected]