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after declaring 2014 the “Year of Action,” President Barack Obama delivered a
State of the Union address suggesting stronger use of executive power to
advance the administration’s policies.
this means different things to the general American public, what is the
potential impact on employers, specifically? Let’s take a closer look at the
key issues from the recent State of the Union address most likely to affect
1. Higher minimum wage for federal workers
Obama announced that he will sign an Executive
Order raising the minimum wage for workers under new federal contracts. This
executive decision would boost the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to
$10.10 an hour, affecting thousands of employees entering into future contracts
with the federal government.
“In the coming
weeks, I will issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to pay
their federally funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour –
because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have
to live in poverty,” said Obama.
2. Increased minimum wage
for all workers
announcing a boost in the minimum wage for federal contract workers the
president shared his plea to Congress to raise the minimum wage for all
workers to $10.10 an hour.
pretty easy to remember. I am going to call this the 1010 Act, and Congress
needs to pass it this year. So, join the rest of the country and say yes. Let’s
give America a raise,” said Obama.
A minimum wage hike
for all Americans is one of the more debated items on Obama’s agenda, with
opponents suggesting it would hurt businesses and stunt job growth. Proponents,
on the other hand, are concerned that the current minimum wage hasn’t kept pace
with inflation and that it perpetuates income inequality.
Toward his goal of a
more sweeping minimum wage change, Obama urged state and local government
leaders to raise the minimum wage, pointing out five states that have approved
minimum wage increases since January 2013.
In addition to urging congressional
leaders to reform the nation’s unemployment insurance system and extend jobless
benefits to unemployed workers, Obama announced a White House initiative to
expand job opportunities for the long-term unemployed.
been urging CEOs to give more long-term unemployed workers a fair shot at that
new job and a new chance to support their families,” said Obama.
4. Equal pay for women
Obama expressed a
renewed commitment to fair and employee-friendly workplace regulations,
emphasizing his desire for additional action regarding equal pay for women and
flexible workplace policies for parents.
He called the pay
difference between men and women an “embarrassment” and pointed out that, “…
today, women make up about half our workplace. But they still make 77 cents for
every dollar a male earns. That is wrong.”
the need to “fix our broken immigration system” in 2014, Obama encouraged
Congress to cooperate in developing a comprehensive, bipartisan bill paving the
way for citizenship for the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.
people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to
our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to
locate and create jobs for everyone," said Obama.
Podium to Policy … Poised for What’s
it is too soon to know how the President’s initiatives, as outlined in the
State of the Union address, may impact the nation, we’ll be keeping a watchful
eye on any new developments in the coming months. If 2014 is a “Year of Action,”
as promised, employers will most certainly be affected in terms of policies and