Senate Cafeteria Cook Goes On Strike To Draw Attention To Low Wages

Rubio Cruz

A cook who serves U.S. Senators in the Senate cafeteria walked out Wednesday and penned a blistering editorial published in The Guardian, that highlighted the low wages he receives while he serves some of the world’s most powerful people. Bertrand Olotara’s op-ed not only cited his poor rate of pay, but he also called into question a lot of campaign rhetoric that implies that people who work hard and play by the rules will get ahead. Olatara described his plight with these words:

Every day, I serve food to some of the most powerful people on earth – including many of the senators who are running for president: I’m a cook for the federal contractor that runs the US Senate cafeteria. But today, they’ll have to get their meals from someone else’s hands, because I’m on strike.

I am walking off my job because I want the presidential hopefuls to know that I live in poverty. Many senators canvas the country giving speeches about creating “opportunity” for workers and helping our kids achieve the “American dream” – most don’t seem to notice or care that workers in their own building are struggling to survive.

I’m a single father and I only make $12 an hour; I had to take a second job at a grocery store to make ends meet. But even though I work seven days a week – putting in 70 hours between my two jobs – I can’t manage to pay the rent, buy school supplies for my kids or even put food on the table. I hate to admit it, but I have to use food stamps so that my kids don’t go to bed hungry.

Olatara continued by noting that he worked hard, played by the rules, and even obtained a college education. He then mentioned that his foreign-based employer, Compass Group, had renewed its contract with the U.S government, despite the fact that the multinational company does not pay a living wage.

Olatara then added, that he and many of his co-workers were going on strike to make sure that federal contracts are awarded to companies that pay a living wage, offer benefits like paid leave, and allow collective bargaining, so that workers don’t have to strike in order to be heard.

U.S. Senators earn a minimum salary of 174,000 dollars a year, plus additional money to cover expenses for food, lodging and travel. Most of them were independently wealthy before they entered the Senate. It shouldn’t be too much to ask that the employees serving these men and women of wealth and power, at least be paid enough money to cover their rent and put food on the table at home. The U.S. government should only award federal contracts to companies that pay American workers a living wage.

While U.S. Senators will probably find it inconvenient that the Senate cook is out on strike, their discomfort pales in comparison to the pain felt by workers all across America, who work two or three jobs to try to make ends meet because their employers fail to pay a living wage. Hopefully this strike will not just draw attention to the plight of low-wage workers, but also that it will lead to substantive change. Then perhaps the Senate cook can not only continue to feed U.S. Senators, but he can also feed his own family as well.

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23 Replies to “Senate Cafeteria Cook Goes On Strike To Draw Attention To Low Wages”

  1. Good Job Mr. Olatara!

    It is hard to stand up and be heard when the burden of life is beating you down.
    I hope that the rest of your co-workers join you in a complete stop of feeding those “corporation-representatives” since they do not care to help the people of this country.

    I hope that you suffer no reprisals from your employer for this action.

    Live long and prosper!

  2. The US Government needs to get rid of contractors.
    Let the people serving the government workers be paid by the Feds.
    Adding another layer of management to essential services is just another way of taking money out of the pockets of every day workers.
    All this private contracting crap is not helping anyone except the the private contractors. When someone has a job they are proud of they have ownership in that job, especially when they work for the feds. When they are working for someone who is trying to pinch every penny they can from the workers, it is obvious.

  3. i understood the senate DR was subsidized by fed funds – meaning the “diners” pay less than the cost of the meal , subsidized by taxpayers.. AND , i would guess , they pay for it out of their govt. office funds as being on official biznez.

  4. These guys don’t have the good grace to be ashamed of themselves. I’m sure they’ll just say they were unaware of Mr. Olataras circumstances, and any others for that matter. (I’m too important, my head is up a billionaires ass.) Maybe they can find a firm to do the job at even lower wages. I hear they serve up a fabulous shit sandwich, with a side of hepatitis, and some food poisoning for desert, if your willing to spend a even less!

  5. part of the Republican mantra is that the private sector can do it better, cheaper and more efficiently… now you get hard reality evidence of what that really means…

  6. ChipsDad:
    The representatives grabbing gets better that! those folks get:
    1. free meals
    2. free shoe shine
    3. free limo trasportation
    4. free laundry
    5. free flights to their home district, “to check on their communities”
    most fly home every weekend.

    It used to be that, the representatives would stay @ DC and over the weekend play a round of golf with the other party and iron out issues (COMPROMISE) but now they just go…at your expense. And stonewall any possible issues that could have been discussed over the weekend.

    Their hourly $$$ wage for actual work:
    OUT OF CONTROL!

  7. Beth I agree with you 100%. They pay him $12.00 an hour but charge us $40.00 an hour. I would rather have my tax dollars pay them directly instead of the middle man getting all the money. All of the contractors do it and it is not right

  8. Good for them. I am glad see that they are tired of being treated like dirt. It’s a damn shame that this story is not the lead story on the network news.

  9. The Compass Group International made record profits last year.
    In the US, their annual revenue was $13.6 BILLION.
    In the UK, their annual revenue was $17.1 BILLION.
    It would seem that they could cut their profit margin a bit, so they could pay ALL their employees at LEAST a living wage.
    We taxpayers are footing the bill for Compass’ bloated profits.
    Shame!

  10. Besides, if the money goes directly to the employee, it gets put back into our economy. If it goes to a foreign contractor, it leaves. Even a Republican should understand that! It’s time to eliminate the “outside contractors” as much as possible. Certainly in the Congressional dining rooms, the jobs should not be controlled by contracting companies, especially by foreign ones.

  11. They could do like Michigan prisons have done and hire ARAmark, they could get a good dose of food poisoning with their food as well.

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