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Federal Contract Workers Target DNCC’s 2016 Platform

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By Rhonda Smith

Some 300 low-wage federal contract workers June 8 staged a strike and protest in Washington, D.C., near the hotel where the subcommittee charged with drafting the Democratic National Convention Committee’s platform held its first of four regional U.S. meetings to gather information.

The workers’ goal was to persuade Democratic leaders to include in the party’s platform language endorsing their push for a minimum hourly wage of $15 and enactment of a labor peace policy that would allow them to collectively bargain “without being forced to strike to be heard,” Paco Fabian, communications director for Good Jobs Nation, told Bloomberg BNA. Good Jobs Nation is an affiliate of Change to Win, a coalition of union and worker organizations.

“Today, workers demanded that the Democratic Platform Committee put the United States government back on the side of workers,” Joseph Geevarghese, director of Good Jobs Nation, said in a statement. “These workers have been on strike nearly 20 times.”

They serve senators, generals and cabinet secretaries, he said, but make so little that they must depend on public aid to survive.

The workers who walked off their jobs June 8 are employed by federal contractors that provide services in the Senate cafeteria, the Pentagon, Union Station, the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, and at a McDonald Corp. restaurant in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, Fabian said.

In response to the strikes, which Good Jobs Nation launched three years ago, Fabian said President Barack Obama has issued three executive orders that boosted the hourly minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10, cracked down on wage theft by their employers and extended their paid leave.

“The Democratic Party must continue President Obama’s labor legacy by making sure 2 million low-wage contract workers win $15 and a Union with the stroke of the pen,” Geevarghese said.

The DNCC is slated to adopt the party’s 2016 platform during the Democratic convention July 25-28 in Philadelphia, Dana Vickers Shelley, a spokeswoman for the DNCC’s Platform Committee, told Bloomberg BNA June 8.

In addition to the two-day regional meeting in Washington, June 8-9, Shelley said the DNCC’s drafting subcommittee is scheduled to hold similar forums in Phoenix, June 17-18; St. Louis, June 24-25; and Orlando, Fla., July 8-9.

In the District of Columbia and Phoenix, individuals and organizations the Democratic officials invited can provide information to the drafting subcommittee on issues such as social justice, poverty, criminal justice, immigrant rights, affordable housing, education, the economy and international affairs, she said.

Workers supported by Good Jobs Nation weren’t invited to testify, Fabian said. But Shelley said the DNCC is encouraging “everyone” to submit written testimony or videos on the party’s website “about issues of concern they want us to consider.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rhonda Smith in Washington at rsmith@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at smcgolrick@bna.com