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December 11, 2015

Capitol Hill Workers Escalate Protests

by Bridget Bowman

Capitol and Senate contract workers went on strike yet again, this time calling on Sen. Ted Cruz, who sits on the committee that oversees their contract, to support their push for better pay and union representation.

The workers flooded the Texas Republican’s office to award Cruz the ‘Golden Grinch’ award, and bring attention to their effort for a $15 an hour wage and collective bargaining rights.

‘Cruz is my guy,’ said an organizer dressed in a Grinch costume. ‘He says, ‘I’m for the American dream,’ but we have workers right here serving you, sir, that are living an American nightmare.”

The Architect of the Capitol is in the process of renegotiating its contract with Restaurant Associates, the Senate food vendor.

Good Jobs Nation pointed out that workers have not been a part of the contract discussions.

Since Cruz sits on the Rules Committee, and is running for president, workers decided to target his office and urge him to remember them in the Senate and on the campaign trail.

The workers, joined by national faith leaders, also caused a stir in the Dirksen cafeteria earlier in the afternoon before they headed to Cruz’s office.

Workers crowded the cafeteria and chanted, “No justice, no peace,” drawing more than a dozen Capitol Police officers to the area.

Faith leaders delivered a letter to Restaurant Associates managers offering to mediate disagreements between workers and management.

“The U.S. Capitol is a symbol of inclusion where everyone can have their voices heard,” the faith leaders wrote. “We hope you will do everything possible to make this symbol real for America’s low-wage workers.”

The workers who have been striking also got a boost from Hollywood filmmaker Michael Moore Tuesday night.

Moore gave his first-ever ‘Hammer and Chisel’ award to Bertrand Olotara, a Senate worker who wrote about his experience having to rely on food stamps in an op-ed.

In addition to a celebrity endorsement, the push for higher wages and union representation for Senate workers has also garnered support from Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who recently commented on social media that a worker he remembered from his time in the Senate should get a raise. Top Senate Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have also endorsed the effort. Senate staff have also been organizing brown bag lunch boycotts to show their support for the workers.”

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