The request asks the Department of Labor to reconsider how it establishes hourly pay so it falls in line with rates in the District of Columbia, rather than an average of the entire Washington metro area that includes parts of Maryland and Virginia.
The change would “would properly reflect both the higher prevailing pay rates in the relevant labor market and address the exceptionally high cost of living experienced by District of Columbia workers,” according to the request filed by Good Jobs Nation. Disparities in weekly wages can range from $272 in Stafford County, Va., to $470 in the District, according to the filing. That can translate into $.30 difference for a cook but more than $1 more an hour for a dishwasher or janitor.
The request also asks the Labor Department to go one step further and ultimately incorporate collective bargaining rates within certain service industries where a majority of workers are unionized.
The request is the latest effort by Good Jobs Nation, an advocacy group for low-wage workers which also has been organizing worker strikes over the past year.
In a complaint filed with the Labor Department on Jan. 14, Good Jobs Nation charged that food service workers in the Senate were cheated out of raises negotiated and agreed upon in December under their latest contract with Restaurant Associates. The complaint claims that the vendor altered workers’ classification to make them no longer eligible for substantial wage increases included in a contract .
The contract for Restaurant Associates workers in the Capitol Visitor Center was approved in 2008 and expires in 2029, according to a spokesman for the Architect of the Capitol.
A message to Restaurant Associates was not returned.
George Faraday, an attorney who prepared and filed the complaint on behalf of Good Jobs Nation, said the request came as workers from other service sectors continue to come out of the woodwork asking for reviews of their pay — particularly janitors who work on the Senate side of the Capitol under a program by Goodwill that offers jobs and training to the disabled.
“If you’re looking out for vulnerable people you actually have some obligation to ensure that they’re getting the best rate they could be, not the lowest rate you think you can get with,” Faraday said.
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