Almost 1,000 striking low-wage workers employed by federal contractors rallied at the Russell Senate Office Building here and demanded $15 an hour and the right to join a union. Two Executive Orders supposedly issued to help them have not helped much.
The one-day strike was coordinated by Good Jobs Nation, which is supported by the Change to Win labor federation, Interfaith Worker Justice and the Campaign for America's Future, among other organizations.
The strikers work at the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, Smithsonian museums and at other federal sites. They cook and serve food, maintain cafeterias and clean offices. All are employed by huge corporations that have been awarded contracts by the federal government.
All earn poverty wages.
Sonita Bailey, a cashier at a café inside the U.S. Capitol, told the crowd she earns so little she also works a second job at Kentucky Fried Chicken. "KFC pays me more," she said. "I work 70 hours a week. It's hurting my health."