One of the nation's largest employers faces a work stoppage by employees seeking higher pay: The Pentagon.
Roughly 50 food court and janitorial workers at the U.S. Department Department went on strike Wednesday to demand a hike in their hourly wage. Strikes targeting federal facilities in Washington were also planned at Washington's Union Station, Smithsonian’s Air
and Space Museum, the Old Post Office Building and the Ronald Reagan Building.
Even as the Obama administration and lawmakers in Congress press for a higher federal minimum wage, the government has faced criticism over the relatively low wages that many federal contractors in Washington pay. At food courts in government buildings, for instance, many workers earn around $9 an hour.
The Good Jobs Nation coalition has reportedly used tactics that include employee walkouts and civil disobedience. Last summer, the group filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor alleging that eight franchise
owners had ignored rules on overtime compensation and paid employees before current
federal minimum wage levels of $7.25 per hour.
According to a living wage calculator designed by MIT researchers, a living wage for a single person in Washington is $13.68 an hour. The minimum wage in the nation's capital is $8.25 an hour. A "typical hourly rate" for food preparation and serving related workers in the area amounts to $11.31 an hour. A poverty wage for a single parent with two children would be $8.80 an hour.