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AG Nessel Joins Coalition Supporting Fair Wages for Federal Contract Workers
August 29, 2023
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of 23 attorneys general in filing an amicus 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 a 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.”
Attorney General Nessel and the coalition submitted the amicus brief in Nebraska v. Walsh, a case challenging the increase in minimum wage requirements for federal contract workers. The coalition argues 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, they argue that the minimum wage increase is fully supported by practical evidence and is consistent with state and local experiences in raising the minimum wage for contractors.
“All workers deserve a fair wage for their services. This increase will bolster productivity and improve lives,” Nessel said. “I wholeheartedly support the efforts of the Department of Labor, which will especially benefit groups that face disproportionate income inequality.”
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. A separate coalition of states, including Nebraska, filed a lawsuit challenging the increase and sought a preliminary injunction. The district court denied the injunction and dismissed the lawsuit upon concluding that the executive order and the Department of Labor’s rule were lawful exercises of executive authority. The states have appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
In their brief, Attorney General Nessel and the attorneys general argue that the appellate court should affirm 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, in turn, lead to improved service and enhance consumer experiences.
Attorney General Nessel has joined other coalitions supporting workers, including signing onto a comment letter in favor of the National Labor Relations Boards’ proposal to rescind and replace a 2020 Trump Administration rule that shielded companies from liability and exposed millions of workers to harmful and unfair labor practices. Attorney General Nessel sided with Michigan workers when the Michigan Court of Claims affirmed the authority of the State to require that fair wages be paid by those who do business with Michigan. She also supported the International Brotherhood of Teamsters who work at UPS when they threatened to strike over fair wages, safe working conditions, affordable health care, and dignified retirement.
Joining Attorney General Nessel in filing the brief were the attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.