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Capitol Police End Another Lunchtime Wage Protest

Dirksen cafeteria protesters called for higher wages for contract workers

Protesters took over the salad bar area of the Dirksen Senate Office Building cafeteria on Tuesday to again demand a $15 per hour minimum wage, and a union for federal contract workers.

In what is becoming a weekly event, Good Jobs Nation, an advocacy group for low-wage workers, joined NETWORK, a Catholic social justice organization, in their protest on Tuesday.

Last week, Bend the Arc, a progressive advocacy group, teamed up with Good Jobs Nation for a 200-person protest .Tuesday’s protest was smaller, with about 40 NETWORK members clapping and chanting, “Sí se puede,” which roughly translates as “Yes, you can” in Spanish, and “$15 and a union.”

During a prayer in the cafeteria led by a NETWORK representative, Sister Marge Clark, four Capitol policemen stood behind the speakers. Once the group started singing, a siren from a police megaphone went off and officers threatened to arrest the activists if they did not leave.

All the protesters complied and walked out of the cafeteria immediately, chanting “Sí se puede” on their way out. Police trailed behind and walked them out of the room.

Before the protest, 16 Catholic college students from universities around the country sat down with federal workers to hear about their lives.

The students were part of NETWORK’s third annual Justice Advocacy Week in Washington. They talked to workers from the Senate, Pentagon and the National Zoo, among other government entities, who told them how some work two or three jobs, and how much money they make.

 Sister Marge then walked around the cafeteria to introduce herself to workers and make them aware that the protest was starting soon.

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