Summers, Jan. 31: Good afternoon, Mr. President. My name is Darnell Summers. I’m 57 years old and I work in the fast food industry. I have been on strike four times - I’m only making $7.25 an hour. I’ve been on strike four times in association with Wisconsin Jobs Now, to try to get an increase in wages and a fast-food union, with no prevail.
My question to you is, what can you and Congress do to help people as myself in this situation survive, because with $7.25, - and we were broken down to part-time to avoid paying health insurance - we can’t survive. It’s not living.
Obama: Well, Darnell, I agree with you. And on Tuesday, at my State of the Union, I talked about this. We’ve got to make sure that the economy is growing and creating jobs. We got to make sure folks have the skills to get those jobs. But we also got to make sure the work pays and the minimum wage in this country has not gone up in a very long time. It’s actually worth about 20 percent less than when Ronald Reagan came into office, back in 1980. And I think the one thing Americans agree on is that if you work full-time in this country, you should not be in poverty, when you’re raising your families.
So here’s what I’ve done myself, through executive action. I intend to make sure that anybody who’s doing federal business, anybody who’s a federal contractor; that their federally funded employees are governed by a minimum wage, $10.10 an hour.
Beyond that, I’m working to encourage states, you know governors, mayors, state legislators, to raise their own minimum wage. And since I made this call for a higher minimum wage a year ago, you’ve seen already five states that have increased their minimum wage. A number of cities have moved forward on a living wage initiative, of the sort that you’re talking about in your hometown, in your home state.