Dem leaders want Senate food workers to make $15 an hour

Dem leaders want Senate food workers to make $15 an hour
© Getty Images
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 (Chuck) Ellis SchumerReforms can stop members of Congress from using their public office for private gain Election Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' Senate Democrats should stop playing politics on Kavanaugh 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 Dean BluntGOP senator pushes back on Trump’s attacks on Maxine Waters’s intelligence Pair of DC fundraisers aims to boost McCaskill challenger Kansas City mayoral candidate: Trump is trying to define patriotism 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 DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGOP leader criticizes Republican senators for not showing up to work Dems seize on Kavanaugh emails to question role in terrorism response Trump gives thumbs up to prison sentencing reform bill at pivotal meeting 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.
“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.