Janitorial and concessions workers at the Pentagon threatened to walk out of work and strike this morning as part of an orchestrated push to force the President into raising their wages.
Jerome Hardy, who has been working at the Pentagon for eight years, told a reporter with Salon that his teeth were “decaying” and “bad” but he couldn’t afford to take the time off to go get them fixed. Hardy went on to say:
[box type=”shadow”]”I still make $9 an hour. Eight years, I haven’t gotten a quarter raise, a dime, a nickel, nothing. So my bills are falling behind. I need more money.”[/box]
Approximately 2 million Americans are filling jobs that pay less than $12 dollars an hour, a wage too low to raise a family say Amy Traub and Robert Hiltonsmith, writers at the progressive think tank Demos.
There are a good deal of politics involved in getting anyone on the Hill to hand out raises, even enough to keep up with the rise in the cost of living. One of the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a group of lawmakers who support workers’ demands, Keith Ellison, D-Minn., put the question to President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors chairman, Jason Furman.
When Ellison asked Furman what chances there were of advancing moves toward raises “outside of legislative action” on behalf of contracted workers, According to Salon, Furman answered that, “There’s no doubt that the biggest thing we could do is something legislative,” because “the biggest question” is, “How can we make sure that there’s no one in this country that’s paid less than $10.10 an hour?” Ellison told Salon that was “the most remarkable dodge I’ve ever seen.”
We agree. When asked what the chances are for people to get raises so they can pay their rent and fix their teeth, the polite response is not, for example, a dismissive, rhetorical quip, “Why do fools fall in love?”
Meanwhile, Jerome Hardy remains hopeful and optimistic while waiting to see what President Obama says in the upcoming State Of The Union address. Hardy sounded a bit like the little engine that “can” when he said, “”I don’t know why he didn’t do it.” He added, “But … I think he’ll change his mind. I think he will.”
Here is another story about the hardships federal workers have had to endure as a result of the Teabilly shutdown of the nation’s government last year.