(Courtesy of GoodJobsNation.org)
Two updates, including news of a letter from congressional Democrats to the President, and of a planned meeting between the GSA and Good Jobs Nation, appear below.
Beginning at 8:30 this morning, non-union, federally contracted workers plan to walk off the job at the Ronald Reagan Building and Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington, DC. Today’s strike, and a “mock trial” and pair of civil disobedience actions planned for this morning, are designed to highlight alleged “wage theft,” and to pressure President Obama to use his executive authority to require higher labor standards for federal contractors. The work stoppage follows a previous one on May 21, and a recent wave of similar one-day strikesby non-unionretail and fast food workers around the country.
“The salary they pay isn’t good enough for us to live,” Reagan Building Subway worker Karla Quezada told The Nation in Spanish last night.
As The Nation has reported, the federally contracted worker campaign is being organized by Good Jobs Nation, a campaign unveiled in the spring and backed by the Service Employees International Union and other labor and progressive groups. A May report from the progressive think tank Demos estimates that about 2 million workers whose jobs are backed by public funds are paid $12 per hour or less. While The New York Times reported in 2010 that the Obama administration planned to announce a “high-road contracting policy” that would make it harder for companies with lower labor standards to secure federal contracts, the White House has made no such move. A spokesperson for the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) did not respond to requests for comment regarding the workers’ actions and allegations, including an inquiry yesterday.
Asked why he believes President Obama has not taken more executive action on standards for federal contractors, Congressman Keith Ellison told The Nation, “I think what’s preventing him is the people he puts around him…. If [GE CEO] Jeff Immelt is the head of your jobs thing, and somebody from Walmart is the head of your OMB, you know, what kind of advice are you getting around low-wage workers?” Ellison (DFL-MN), the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, was interviewed last month in San Jose at the Netroots Nation conference, where he and a handful of colleagues joined fast food workers to kick off a “Raise Up America” campaign whose goals include a minimum wage hike, support for workers seeking unionization and higher wages for federally contracted employees. Ellison told The Nation that he was against “villainizing” the president, adding, “It’s the system—it’s not the person…. I think we could almost fairly be described as a plutocracy now.”