Workers with Restaurant Associates are on strike in our nation's capital and have clear demands. They want a livable minimum wage and the right to unionize. The minimum wage for these workers is currently $10.10, which was set by President Obama in an executive order that mandated federal contractors to pay their workers at least that amount. The Washington D.C., workers on strike want at least $15.00 an hour.
Restaurant Associates is part of the British company Compass Group. A study from Demos in 2013 reported that U.S. taxpayers pay about $24 billion of the executives' pay. Restaurant Associates reported revenue of about $13 billion last year. When the government allows federal contractors to pay low wages to their employees that perform physical labor, the government quickly becomes "the largest creator of low-wage jobs in the country."
One man who is employed by Restaurant Associates works in the U.S. Capitol Building. He said he doesn't earn enough at $11.85 an hour to afford to have his son live with him. Instead, his son lives with the man's mother. Another employee says he is essentially just working to pay for his health insurance.
Workers at the Regan Building went on strike, and many found themselves fired afterwards. That employer eventually took the workers back, but many employees now understand how dangerous it can be to advocate for higher wages.
When employers fire employees over wage and hour disputes, there may be a need for employees to seek out information on their rights. An experienced employment law attorney may be able to file a lawsuit on your behalf to help ensure that your employer is in compliance with federal and state employment laws.
Source: Moyers & Company, "Workers at the US Capitol Building Protest to Demand a Living Wage" Alan Pyke, Think Progress, Nov. 14, 2014