Workers to protest low pay and alleged wage theft at federal buildings

A group representing service employees has organized a morning of demonstrations and civil disobedience at various locations throughout the capital on Tuesday to protest low pay and alleged wage theft by vendors at federal buildings.

Good Jobs Nation, which represents low-wage employees of government contractors, plans to start the day with a mock trial in an intersection near the Ronald Reagan Building, according to organizers.

The group also plans to hold a press conference at D.C.’s municipal headquarters and “protests, civil disobedience” near the General Services Administration building.

(Amanda Voisard/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST) (Amanda Voisard/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Last week, Good Jobs Nation filed a complaint with the Labor Department alleging wage theft by food vendors contracting with GSA. The group claims that eight franchises operating at the Reagan Building have paid employees less than the minimum wage and ignored rules on overtime pay.

The Labor Department is investigating the allegations, according to an agency spokesperson.

At D.C.’s municipal headquarters, district council members Kenyan McDuffie and Tommy Wells are scheduled to join low-wage workers and clergy in calling on President Obama to issue an executive order that would require federal contractors to pay a “living wage.”

Good Jobs Nation said it represents the interests of more than 2 million low-wage employees who work for government contractors — doing anything from greeting visitors and selling memorabilia to driving trucks and making military uniforms. The group claims the federal government has created more low-wage jobs than Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, based on research from the Demos advocacy group.

“Hundreds of billions of dollars in federal contracts, grants, loans, concession agreements, and property leases to to large, profitable corporations that pay their CEOs millions in salaries and bonuses but pay their workers such low wages that they are unable to afford basic necessities like food, clothing, and rent,” Good Jobs Nation said in a statement.

Trade Center Management Associates, the firm that manages the Reagan Building, said in a statement last week that it would take appropriate action if the Labor Department determines that food vendors in the facility have violated federal guidelines.

Good Jobs Nation held its first demonstration in May, when service workers at federal buildings walked off the job to protest low wages. The group also staged a protest last   Tuesday, when it delivered the complaint with the Labor Department.

To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed, friend his Facebook page or e-mail josh.hicks@washpost.comFor more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

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