One month ago, the Patriotic Millionaires participated in the #BrownBagBoycott in solidarity with cafeteria workers in the U.S. Senate who are underpaid, calling for a minimum wage of $15.
Last week, we had a huge victory on that front. Now, all of the hard working cafeteria staffers will be receiving a raise and a bump in benefits. While it is not the $15 an hour target that we set, it is certainly a step in the right direction.
New hires had been making D.C. minimum wage of $10.50 under the old contract. Under the new contract, the minimum starting wage for most workers is $13.30, and those in a few jobs, including cooks, will start higher.
The fringe benefits paid to the workers, which can be used for health, transportation or retirement, have increased as well — a roughly 5 percent bump to $4.27 an hour — though that provision was tied to the federal Service Contract Act rather than directly to the negotiation.
The new contract was signed Thursday after months of outside involvement — not only from labor activists, including the Service Employees International Union, which has been seeking to organize the workers, but also from Democratic senators who lobbied quietly for improvements seven years after a Democratic Senate voted to privatize the chamber’s food service operations. And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who caucuses with Senate Democrats, appeared at two Capitol Hill rallies for the workers.
We have much work to do around the country, but we are honored to support every hard-working American and their right to not live in poverty.