Thursday, November 13, 2014

Federal contract workers kick off another strike season today on Capitol Hill

Striking federal contract workers
Federal contract workers walked off their jobs today demanding a $15-an-hour minimum wage and the right to join a union.

The action signaled the beginning of another season of strikes by low-wage workers in the fast food, retail, warehousing and port trucking industries. Protests are expected for Black Friday at Walmart, while port truck drivers are walking off the job at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach today.

The low-wage worker movement is coalescing as Walmart workers and Teamsters joined striking federal contract workers in today's action. 
Marching up Capitol Hill today.
Hundreds of low-wage workers employed by government contractors marched up Capitol Hill this morning, carrying signs that read, "To Survive, Workers Need $15 and  Union." They rallied in front of the Capitol, led by U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, Rep. Judy Chu and Rep. Keith Ellison. Their message: "We are here to call on the President to do & help workers live the American Dream." Said Ellison, "We know some contractors are good and some are bad. The federal government needs to stop working with the bad ones."

This is the 10th and largest of the government contractor employee strikes. Ned Resnikoff at AlJazeera America reported, 
Since Good Jobs Nation’s first strike a year and a half ago, the campaign has won a handful of key victories. First, President Barack Obama signed an executive order in February that requires all federal contractors pay their employees a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour. Obama followed up with executive orders banning LGBT discrimination at federally contracted workplaces and tightening labor law compliance requirements for businesses seeking federal contracts. The $10.10 executive order was particularly significant: It met the first major demand issued by the Good Jobs Nation campaign.
One of today's strikers is featured on a Credo petition asking President Obama to do more than the minimum and use a stroke of the pen for $15 and a union. Here is his message:
Today, my coworkers and I walked off the job at the U.S. Capitol to highlight the plight of low-wage workers under federal contracts. We were joined by low-wage federal contract workers from other federal buildings in the D.C. area, representing 2 million working across the nation.

I work at the Capitol Visitor's Center making $12.46 an hour. My coworkers and I are the ones who labor invisibly in the basement of this great landmark. We welcome the tourists, serve them food, clean the tables and empty the trash bins. 
Because I make so little, I qualify for government food stamps. Even though I was hired as a full-time worker, my hours were cut without warning. I don’t get any sort of benefits such as health care insurance or retirement savings from my employer. I'm fifty years old and I won't be able to retire, because I can't save money when I'm struggling to afford basic needs like paying rent and putting food on the table. 
As a father, I want to help my kid out, because college tuition is expensive. My ex-wife and I are trying to help our daughter graduate from college, but I’m afraid the tuition checks will bounce. 
We are grateful to President Obama for signing executive orders to raise the minimum wage and stop wage theft on federal contracts. But workers like me need more than the minimum to survive.
You can sign the petition here.
Today's rally in front of the U.S. Capitol
Follow the action on Twitter @GoodJobsNation & #MoreThanMin.