Thirty-four members of the Senate Democratic caucus including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sen. Al Franken (D-MI) sent a letter to the contractor that employs the Senate cafeteria workers calling on them to all the employees to organize into a union.
In a letter to Compass Group CEO Richard Cousins, the senators wrote, “Employees working full time in the U.S. Senate should not be living in poverty. Yet with the cost of living in the Washington metropolitan area among the highest in the United States, there have been numerous reports of Senate cafeteria workers forced to take a second job, rely on public assistance programs, and in at least one instance, into homelessness.”
The company has been trying to keep the union out by engaging in intimidation and discrimination. The tactics have continued even after the National Labor Relations Board upheld claims that the company was intimidating their workers.
“Although Restaurant Associates settled these charges by promising to end further unlawful intimidation, it has been reported that within weeks, Restaurant Associates’ President Ed Sirhal took advantage of the Senate recess to hold a meeting with workers to discourage their organizing campaign,” the senators wrote. “The time has come for the Compass Group to ensure Senate cafeteria workers have a model employer that addresses its workers’ legitimate concerns.”
Democrats aren’t not just interested in the idea of expanding the rights of workers; they are taking action to expand the rights of those who work in the food service industry in the Senate. The Democrats are committed to their values, and backing up their words with action.
Republicans are increasingly falling behind the times as polling has demonstrated that support for worker’s rights is growing. It has been generations since the American people have been as sensitive to economic inequality as they are right now. The Great Recession brought old issues of inequality and worker’s rights back into the public conscience.
Democrats aren’t just talking the talk. They are walking the walk.
Note: Here is the list of 34 senators who signed the letter:
Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Richard Durbin (D-Mich.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Thomas Carper (D-Del.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).