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Pope Francis inspires striking Capitol workers

The Capitol workers who were on strike during the first day of Pope Francis’s visit to Washington believe their pleas for higher wages and the opportunity to form a union got through to the pontiff.

Pope Francis, a staunch critic of income inequality, briefly addressed low-wage workers who “strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and — one step at a time — to build a better life for their families” during his address to Congress on Thursday.

“The pope spoke not just to the privileged members of Congress but also the working poor who serve them,” said Joseph Geevarghese, deputy director of Change to Win, which represents the Capitol workers. “Francis is affirming the right of workers to earn a living wage and form unions in order to support their families.”

The Capitol workers, more than 1,000 of whom walked off their jobs on Tuesday, describe the federal government as the “largest low-wage employer” across the country. They hope the pope’s comments will encourage lawmakers to raise their wages.

They are pushing for a $15 minimum wage and a union.

Though they were unsuccessful in obtaining a meeting with the pope during his trip to Washington, they hope his message will be heard loud and clear by lawmakers.