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Obama will take executive actions on minimum wage message delivered in Ann Arbor

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The New York Daily News reported today this coming week President Barack Obama will make good on his promise delivered this past week in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Obama will be issuing further "executive actions" on the "minimum wage" front. The first "executive action" would "prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their pay with each other."

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In another "executive action" to come, Obama will direct the Labor Department to adopt regulations requiring federal contractors to provide compensation data based on sex and race.

Obama was on the road this past Friday pushing this "minimum wage" agenda, in the Big Ten university town of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Obama delivered a speech at the University of Michigan Intramural Sports Building, and sent a clear and unmistakable message on the issue of "income inequality."

Raise the federal minimum wage to "$10.10."

The message was intended for the United States Congress, and more specifically, to the Republicans in the House of Representatives.

Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest told a press gaggle on Air Force One on the way to Ann Arbor that a "century ago in Michigan, Henry Ford famously raised his workers' pay because he knew it would be good for his business."

Ford paid his workers the then-astounding total of $5-a-day, and he did it because he wanted to reduce turnover and enable his workers to afford the automobiles manufactured by the company.

It made business sense and came from one of America's most brilliant businessman.

Earnest cited other modern-day Henry Fords, "Now we're seeing that many other businesses, like Costco and Gap, do the same thing for their workers. These steps increase productivity, it reduces turnover and it bolsters the bottom line of these businesses."

During Obama's speech at the Intramural Sports Building, he singled out the owner of a legendary delicatessen business in Ann Arbor: Zingerman's.

"Before I came here today, I stopped at Zingerman’s, which is the -- which is the right thing to do when you're in Ann Arbor," Obama told the knowing crowd.

Obama stopped at Zingerman's with Michigan's 14th district Democratic Congressman Gary Peters, prior to his speech at the University of Michigan's Intramural Sports Building. Peters is a candidate for United States Senate in Michigan with the seat being vacated by Senator Carl Levin who is retiring this term.

Obama spent a few minutes chatting with an employee, 22 year old Andrea Byl. She had recently graduated from the University of Michigan with degrees in French and linguistics. She told the president she plans to soon begin teaching English classes in France, and the president encouraged her to travel. "Now is the time. Go to France."

Obama and Rep. Peters stood in front of a large display case filled with salads, meats, desserts and other goodies. Both ordered Reuben sandwiches and iced teas, while Obama also got a side of "Che Che spin" salad.

He loved the world-famous Reuben.

"I stopped for two reasons. The first is the Reuben is killer. So I ordered like the small -- and it didn’t look that small. So I gave half to Valerie Jarrett, who’s traveling with us. And then after I finished the half, I wanted the half back."

It was too late and as he turned to Jarrett, "All she had left was the pickle. So I took the pickle."

"The second reason, though, is Zingerman’s is a business that treats its workers well, and rewards honest work with honest wages," Obama said. "And that’s worth celebrating. And that’s what I’m here to talk about today: How do we rebuild an economy that creates jobs and opportunities for every American?"

He continued in praise of one of Zimmerman's owners, Paul Saginaw. "Zingerman’s does not have as many workers as the Gap, obviously, but they try to do right by each and every one of them. You’ve got some big businesses who go to Washington to lobby for special treatment for themselves."

"So one of Zingerman’s owners, Paul Saginaw, flew to D.C. to lobby for his workers, to lobby for better treatment for workers through a higher minimum wage," Obama said. "That’s the kind of folks who are running Zingerman’s."

Whether it is Henry Ford in 1914 or Paul Saginaw in 2014, the "minimum wage" has not gone away as an issue with the American people.

***

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Sources:

Boston Herald - In Michigan, Obama presses for higher minimum wage

White House transcript of speech - April 2, 2014

White House press pool reports

***

Send John Presta an email and your story ideas or suggestions,johnpresta@att.net.

***

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