Federally-Contracted Low-Wage Women to Strike Today

Monday, June 23, 2014

(Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO)

Hundreds of working mothers and grandmothers working on federal contracts will hold a strike and rally this morning at the National Zoo, on the same day that the White House Summit on Working Families meets to discuss the struggles of low-wage working women at the nearby Omni Shoreham Hotel. The strike is timed to occur before the President is expected to address the Summit.

Workers will be walking off their jobs from over 50 profitable companies that do business with the U.S. Government, including companies at landmark buildings like the Pentagon, Smithsonian Museums, Ronald Reagan Building, Union Station and, for the first time, the National Zoo.

“Like the army of Rosie the Riveters who labored under defense contracts during World War II, low-wage federally contracted working women— a new generation of Rosie’s —keep America’s government running,” says Good Jobs Nation, which is organizing the strike.

“We need a living wage and benefits,”says Yesenia Vega, a worker at a McDonald’s restaurant located at the Pentagon. She and other workers are also seeking decent health insurance, vacation benefits and paid sick days. “We need a union to get these things,” she says.

These federally contracted workers – who went on strike 7 times in the past year as part of the Good Jobs Nation campaign – will say that the President’s $10.10 minimum wage executive order is not nearly enough to support their families and lift them out of poverty. The striking women will call on President Obama to allow them to collectively bargain with their employers so they don’t need to continue walking off their jobs to win living wages, health care, paid time-off and other benefits they need.

The women fighting for a Good Jobs Nation sent a letter to President Obama and Labor Secretary Tom Perez calling for collective bargaining rights – and in just a few days, over 30,000 Americans signed a petition calling on the Administration to act.

The strike comes on the heels of a new report by the public policy organization Demos that shows that women hold seven out of every ten low wage jobs funded by the federal government, “meaning Uncle Sam keeps more women in poverty than anyone else,” says GJN. The Demos report concludes that the President should go beyond his $10.10 minimum wage executive order and issue a Good Jobs Executive Order that it calculates could place 21 million Americans – 8 million workers and their families – on a path to the middle class.  


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