|Today in Washington, D.C.
The federal workers are on strike for the day and picketing in front of the National Air and Space Museum, the Old Post Office, Union Station and the Ronald Reagan Trade Center. DCist reports,
Groups of workers employed in service jobs at federal buildings around D.C. are picketing this morning outside the landmark sites at which they are employed over their low wages. The protest, organized by a new group calling itself Good Jobs Nation, includes people who work at federal building food courts, loading docks, memorabilia shops, and facilities that manufacture uniforms for the military.
The demonstration started about 7 a.m. outside the Ronald Reagan Building, with more than 100 participants filling the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and 13th Street NW during the morning rush.It's the sixth one-day strike by low-wage workers in recent months. Fast-food and retail employees have walked off the job in New York, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and Milwaukee to protest poverty-level wages.
A report released by Demos exposes the millions of government jobs that don't pay enough to live on:
...Through federal contracts and other funding, our tax dollars are fueling the low-wage economy and exacerbating inequality. Hundreds of billions of dollars in federal contracts, grants, loans, concession agreements and property leases go to private companies that pay low wages, provide few benefits, and offer employees little opportunity to work their way into the middle class. At the same time, many of these companies are providing their executives with exorbitant compensation.
We find that nearly two million private sector employees working on behalf of America earn wages too low to support a family, making $12 or less per hour. This is more than the number of low-wage workers at Walmart and McDonalds combined.1 Yet, if anything, this figure underestimates the total number of poorly-paid workers funded by our tax dollars. Our analysis encompasses U.S. workers employed by government contractors, paid by federal health care spending, supported by Small Business Administration loans, working on federal construction grants, and maintaining buildings leased by the federal government. This encompasses the largest share of poorly-paid workers funded by our taxes. However, other streams of funding have yet to be analyzed. For example, loans and subsidies from the Department of Agriculture fund giant agribusinesses that employ more than a million farm workers, while grants from the Department of Education fund low-wage assistant teachers, bus monitors and cooks in Head Start and other programs. Due to lack of data, retail and food service workers for concessionaires of the National Parks Service and other federal agencies also fall outside our analysis.Josh Eidelson at The Nation also reports:
In September 2010, the Government Accountability Office issued a report concluding that the government had paid $6 billion in fiscal year 2009 federal contracts to contractors who had been cited for violations of federal labor laws. Seven months earlier, The New York Times reported that the Obama administration was planning to issue a “High Road Procurement Policy” that could “disqualify more companies with labor, environmental or other violations and give an edge to companies that offer better levels of pay, health coverage, pensions and other benefits” in securing federal contracts. But such a move never came to pass.Good Jobs Nation is asking President Obama to sign an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay living wages. You can sign the petition here.
The Teamsters are supporting the strike through the Change to Win federation. Change to Win supports strikes by non-union workers who work in Wal-Mart stores, Wal-Mart warehouses, on sub-contracted cleaning crews in Minneapolis-St. Paul Target stores and in fast food restaurants.