October 8, 2015

Bernie Sanders, Federal Workers Call For A Living Wage Ahead Of Pope's Visit

"Whose Capitol? Our Capitol!" The chant reverberated on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Tuesday as low-income federal workers and religious leaders gathered to kneel in prayer for higher wages and the right to unionize.

Around 1,000 low-wage contract workers from federal buildings went on strike for the day to protest their pay and working conditions. Hundreds attended the demonstration, which took place in honor of Pope Francis' impending arrival in Washington, D.C.

The pope has made the plight of the low-wage worker central to his papacy and has dubbed economic inequality the “root of social evil.”

The refrain “15 and a union” echoed in the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, as workers and religious leaders filled the pews before crossing the street to pray on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Reverends, an imam, a rabbi and employees praised the pope for his message, and asked God to take mercy on the low-income worker. All the while, workers held up portraits of haloed populist advocates such as Mahatma Gandhi and Cesar Chavez.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also addressed the crowd. Sanders, who has made income inequality a main issue in his campaign for the presidency, called on Obama to sign an executive order granting federal workers a salary of $15 an hour, proper benefits and the right to form a union.

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