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Sep
2016
28

The $1M Wage Theft Settlement with Senate Cafeteria Staff? Some Workers are Getting $240.

It took Senate cafeteria workers a year to draw attention to their plight

It took Senate cafeteria workers a year to draw attention to their plight


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Back in July, we posted about the $1 million in backpay owed to Senate cafeteria workers by federal contractors. The Department of Labor forced Compass Group to compensate their employees and make up for the “oversight,” but it appears the embattled cafeteria workers still aren’t getting a fair shake.

In a recent piece for The Hill, contributor Alba Morales explains how the DOL and Compass Group may have bungled restitution efforts:

Within weeks, some of my co-workers started receiving as much as $20,000 in back-pay awards. But I only received $240, with no explanation of how it was calculated.

I’ve worked at the Senate for over a decade and I believe the company likely stole much more than a couple of hundred bucks from me.

And I’m not alone. Over a dozen Senate contract workers received little or no compensation as wage theft victims.

Morales, a cashier at the Dirksen Senate Cafeteria and a leader of the Good Jobs Nation campaign for low-wage federal contract workers, would like to see workers have a seat at the table when settlements like this are worked out. It’s only right considering what they endured to make the restitution a reality:

This case involves Senate cafeteria workers, some of whom were so poorly paid that they were homeless, on public assistance or, in one case,moonlighting as a stripper to make ends meet. For about a year, they staged a series of demonstrations to demand a living wage.

And it’s the workers themselves who brought attention to the issue in court, Morales notes, before being put back in the dark:

We want to make sure every worker at the U.S. Senate is interviewed by Labor Department investigators and provided with an explanation of how their back-pay awards were calculated.

But even more importantly, we want to be represented during the negotiation of the final settlement. We believe that we can play a role in holding the company accountable to following the law.

Our wages would not have been stolen in the first place if we had a seat at the table. 

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