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Democratic leaders are calling for Senate restaurant workers to get paid $15 an hour, after media outlets reported that one food-service employee is homeless.
Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerOvernight Finance: Trump takes victory lap at Carrier plant | House passes 'too big to fail' revamp | Trump econ team takes shape Anti-Defamation League: Ellison's past remarks about Israel 'disqualifying' Dems press Trump to keep Obama overtime rule MORE (D-N.Y.), who is next in line to become Senate Democratic leader, said he and his colleagues have spoken to Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy BluntRoy BluntOvernight Defense: Trump reportedly picking Mattis for Defense chief Dem senator: Petraeus would have ‘real challenge’ on confirmation GOP senators: We’re open to Petraeus at State MORE (R-Mo.) about raising wages for Senate food workers.
Schumer said Tuesday he supports paying workers $15 an hour.
“We do support a living wage for all of the restaurant workers. We’ve made that clear to the chairman of the Rules Committee, and we hope to work something out to get that done,” he told reporters.
Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinLawmakers eye early exit from Washington Senators crafting bill to limit deportations under Trump Warren pushes Dems to get tough with Trump MORE (Ill.) and several colleagues wrote a letter Monday to the Rules Committee calling on private contractors working with the Senate to pay employees a livable wage.
Senate Democrats made raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour a central plank of their 2014 campaign platform.
The issue gained new prominence in the upper chamber this month, after media outlets reported that Charles Gladden, a 63-year-old Senate restaurant worker, was homeless. He earns $11 an hour.
Restaurant workers say the wage is not enough because their hours are cut down when the Senate is in recess.
Some of them blame fluctuating hours and compensation on the decision to privatize the Senate’s restaurants in 2008, when Democrats controlled the chamber.
One Senate worker noted the Senate’s food-service contractor, Restaurant Associates, reduces shifts when lawmakers return to their home states for recess.
Schumer declined to comment on the decision to privatize the restaurants but noted it took place before he took over as Rules Committee chairman. The current labor contract was negotiated before Schumer became head of the Rules panel, a Democratic aide said.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidLawmakers eye early exit from Washington McCain to support waiver for Mattis, Trump team says Reeling Dems look for new leader MORE (D-Nev.) endorsed Schumer’s position Tuesday.
“If you look at the statistics of how these men and women are treated, it’s really quite stark. Twenty-three percent of the people that we have serving us food are on welfare, food stamps,” he said.
Twenty-three percent of families that rely on fast-food jobs have incomes between 100 percent and 199 percent of the federal poverty line, compared to 13 percent for the entire workforce, according to the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California, Berkeley.