Attorney General Phil Weiser joins coalition supporting fair wages for federal contract workers
Jan. 30, 2024 (DENVER) – Attorney General Phil Weiser joined a coalition of 22 attorneys general in filing a court brief supporting the federal government’s actions to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour for certain federal contractors. The policy was first enacted by presidential executive order in April 2021, and then implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor in November 2021 in the final rule, “Increasing the Minimum Wage for Federal Contract Workers.”
Weiser and the coalition submitted the amicus brief in Texas v. Biden, a case involving a challenge to the executive order and final rule raising the minimum wage for federal contractors. Weiser and the states argue that both the president and the Department of Labor acted well within their authority when implementing the policies to ensure federal contract workers are paid fair living wages. In addition, Weiser and the attorneys general argue that the minimum wage increase is fully supported by empirical evidence and is consistent with state and local experiences in raising the minimum wage for contractors.
“Colorado law ensures that workers are able to earn a livable wage,” stated Weiser. “When the federal government hires a contractor, it is entitled to ensure that they are a responsible company committed to paying its workers fairly. This rule does just that, raising the minimum wage floor set a decade ago.”
At issue in the underlying lawsuit is an executive order and follow-on rule increasing the minimum wage for certain federal contractors, which had been set at $10.10 per hour since 2014. Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of the executive order and final rule as unlawful. The district court concluded that the president exceeded his statutory authority under the Procurement Act and enjoined the federal government from enforcing the executive order and rule against those three states. The federal government appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
In their brief, Weiser and the attorneys general argue that the appellate court should reverse the lower court’s decision. The coalition points to the ways an increased minimum wage benefits employers, employees and consumers, citing studies and reports demonstrating that an increased minimum wage leads to improved morale and productivity, reduced turnover and absenteeism, as well as improved income equality and decreased poverty for federal contractual workers. Those benefits lead to improved service and enhanced consumer experiences.
Joining Weiser in filing the brief are attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.