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August 11, 2015

Dems Demand Higher Wages for Senate Cafeteria Workers

Senate Democrats are turning to their own cafeteria at the U.S. Capitol in the fight over a $15 minimum wage.

Dozens of Senate Democrats are calling on Republicans to cancel an agreement with Restaurant Associates unless the upper chamber's food service contractor raises wages.

"It is important that all Senate cafeteria and catering workers are able to do their jobs in a positive and supportive work environment,” a group of 41 Democrats wrote in a letter to Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), whose Rules Committee oversees the contract. "If Restaurant Associates is unable to treat and compensate its employees appropriately, we urge you to terminate the contract and find a different vendor.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is heading up the letter for the Democrats, which is expected to be sent by the end of the week.

The cafeteria workers represent a broader push from Democrats to raise wages for all minimum wage workers across the country. A number of Democrats have signed on to a push to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour, while others are pushing for $15 an hour.

The demands have been met with fierce resistance from Republicans who say a $15 minimum wage is unfeasible for businesses. So Democrats are taking the fight closer to home.

The Democrats say they are concerned not only about the low wages, but also the treatment of the Senate cafeteria workers.

The Senate cafeteria workers, who are part of a growing movement of low-wage workers demanding $15 an hour, are facing reduced hours. They also have complained about an “intimidating work environment” and “work schedules that make it difficult to get a second job."

The Democrats are pressing Blunt to investigate the working conditions and pay of Senate cafeteria workers, and terminate the contract if the problems persist.

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