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 strikes by non-union retail 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.