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Snag Holds Up Minimum Wage Increase For D.C. Government Contractors

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An increase in the minimum wage for contractors awaits action by the D.C. Council.
Adam Fagen (http://www.flickr.com/photos/afagen/5095526890/)
An increase in the minimum wage for contractors awaits action by the D.C. Council.

As the D.C. council debates raising the city's minimum wage, questions remain as to why the "living wage" for government contractors hasn't been adjusted in years.

A 2006 law passed by the council requires the city to pay its government contractors a living wage. The rate is supposed to be reset every year to adjust for cost-of-living estimates, but city officials admit that hasn't taken place.

The rate was set at $12.50 in 2010, but it hasn't been updated since.

"So employees who should've gotten those adjustments every year would've lost out on around $3200 in the past 34 months," says Naomi Iser with D.C.'s Employment Justice Center. "So if supplying them with that sort of backpay would be possible, then ideally that is what we would support."

The wage should be $13.40. The law says the rate should apply to city contracts worth more than $100,000.

The hold up, according to city officials, is a dispute over whether the living wage rule should apply to city contractors working in group homes for the developmentally disabled.

At a council hearing today, lawmakers say they are still working to resolve the issue and may look at exempting certain workers so that they can update the wage.

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