Federally Contracted Low-Wage Workers to Launch “Good Jobs Nation” Campaign for Living Wage and Voice on the Job

Release Date: 
May 8, 2013

Washington – On Wednesday, May 8 at 9 a.m. EST, low-wage workers from around the country employed in a variety of firms operating under federal contracts, loans, and leases will join Members of Congress, community leaders, and local elected officials to announce the launch of Good Jobs Nation—a new organization of low-wage workers joining together for a living wage and a voice on the job. These low-wage workers employed by private businesses serve the American public by working in the food courts at government buildings like Union Station and the Ronald Reagan Building, greeting visitors and selling memorabilia at the Smithsonian Museums, driving trucks hauling federally-owned loads, and making military uniforms for our troops. The new organizing effort comes just weeks after strikes in New York City and Chicago by low-wage workers at major fast food and retail chains including Macy’s and McDonalds.

Hundreds of billions of dollars in federal contracts, grants, loans, concession agreements, and property leases go to large, profitable corporations that pay their CEOs millions in salaries and bonuses but pay their workers such low wages that they are unable to afford basic necessities like food, clothing, and rent. Instead of strengthening our economy, taxpayer dollars are being used to pad corporate profits and bonuses, while leaving workers unable to shop at local businesses and reliant on public assistance to provide for their families. Raising pay for these workers would lift our entire economy by putting more money in the pockets of working families.

At the event, a Demos researcher will discuss the findings of their new report, Underwriting Bad Jobs: How Our Tax Dollars Are Funding Low-Wage Work and Fueling Inequality, which reveals the number of low-wage jobs supported by federal government contracts, loans, and leases. The Demos report is the first of its kind detailing how federal contracts and other arrangements are contributing to poverty living standards, undermining economic growth. Demos is a public policy organization working for an America where we all have an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy. The report is part of Demos’ on-going work creating pathways to ensure a strong and diverse middle class.

In response, congressional leaders, including Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-MN) and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), will announce steps to investigate the federal government's role in promoting low-wage jobs.

WHO:

  • Federally funded low-wage workers
  • Pastor Frederick Haynes, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference Chair
  • Our DC Community Organization
  • Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-MN)
  • Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
  • Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
  • Amy Traub, Demos
  • Rev. Michael Livingston, Interfaith Worker Justice

WHAT:                 Launch of “Good Jobs Nation” Campaign

WHERE:               Columbus Club (East Hall), Union Station

WHEN:                 Wednesday, May 8 at 9 a.m. EST