Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Federal contract workers strike in DC for 5th time

Marching down Pennsylvania Ave. today.
Cleaning and concession workers went on strike today in Washington, D.C., demanding an end to wage theft and retaliation for trying to form a union. Organizers said it was the biggest one-day strike yet.

The striking workers serve food or clean Union Station, Smithsonian Museums and the Ronald Reagan Building and Old Post Office -- all owned by the federal government. This is the fifth one-day walkout since May by employees of federal government contractors.  Their actions already spurred a Department of Labor investigation into their allegations of wage theft, and outspoken support from 17 progressive members of Congress.

Today they rallied at Freedom Plaza, then marched to the White House where six workers delivered petitions signed by 250,000 people. The petitions asked for an executive order requiring federal contractors be given preference for providing decent pay and benefits.

Paying workers more money wouldn't cost taxpayers a dime more, according to a Demos report released today. The think tank figures that capping contractor executive salaries at $230,700 a year -- Vice President Joe Biden's salary -- that would save as much as $7.65 billion annually.

In the past month, port truck drivers hoping to join the Teamsters walked off the job; so did fast-food workers in 60 cities, and 68 people were arrested across the country in nonviolent protests of Walmart's retaliation against workers. Josh Eidelson at Salon reports on the growing support for one-day strikes.
Their effort exemplifies twin trends in the modern, embattled labor movement. First, the rise of one-day, non-union strikes by minorities of the workforce, designed to embarrass bosses and engage co-workers and the public. And second, new campaigns that sidestep workers’ legal employer — whether a fast food franchisee, a warehouse company hired by Wal-Mart, or a federal contractor — and instead attempt to squeeze the “real boss”: the fast food corporation, the retail giant or the president of the United States...
President Obama has signed an executive order that bans federal contractors from billing the government for union busters.

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