On Monday, Good Jobs Nation will join Communication Workers Local 3509 President, Mike Hodges and local elected officials to rally in solidarity with call center workers at Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The workers are employed by General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) under contract with the U.S. Government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
The GDIT workers at Hattiesburg are protesting because many of them are paid just $10.35 per hour – a rate which is not only too low to meet their basic needs but which, according to a Complaint filed with the Department of Labor by GDIT employees and CWA, violates the federal law that protects contract workers from sweatshop conditions – the Service Contract Act (SCA).
The SCA sets minimum pay rates for contract workers based on locality, job function, and skill level. According to the Complaint, GDIT is paying the Hattiesburg workers at the rate for the lowest-skilled type of customer service representative, even though their work – helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and Affordable Care Act coverage — takes months of training and experience, entitling them to a higher rate under the SCA.
General Dynamics is a giant corporation which gets half its revenues from contracts with the federal government. It has raked in $28 billion in taxpayer money since Trump took office. Last year it made $3 billion in profits, and paid its CEO over $21 million.
But none of this stops General Dynamics from cheating many of its lowest paid workers, and not only those at Hattiesburg. DOL is currently investigating allegations that it has underpaid its reps at four other federally contracted call centers, potentially cheating 10,000 workers out of $100 million. And, when workers at Hattiesburg and elsewhere began standing up against these practices, GDIT responded with misinformation and threats, leading the National Labor Relations Board to issue a Complaint against the company in August.
Companies that get rich on the federal dime should do better. That’s why we will be standing with the Hattiesburg workers on Monday.