Trump said he would create ‘more jobs and better wages’ — he can start with federal contractors
© Getty Images

Today, thousands of low-wage federal contract workers are on strike to call on President Trump to keep his campaign promise and deliver “more jobs and better wages” for America’s workers. 

Every day, I’m honored to serve members of our military at the Pentagon food court. But I make so little as a federal contract worker that I can’t afford to support myself or my family. 

When I started my job in 2012, I was making $8.50 an hour. Now, five years later, I only make $9.08. I don’t receive regular raises or even health benefits or sick leave.

A few of my customers have asked me how much I make. “What? You have to be kidding!” they say. “And you thought military pay was lousy,” I respond.

But there’s one customer I wouldn’t joke with if he walked up to my register: the commander in chief.


If President Trump visited me at the Pentagon, I’d ask him to raise my pay so I can afford to take care of my 1-year-old son, who’s lived in the hospital his entire life. 


My son was born premature — he only weighed 2 pounds 5 ounces — and he has chronic lung disease and an immune disorder. 

I’d tell the commander in chief that I desperately need health benefits so I can afford my son’s medical care when he’s eventually discharged. Right now, I can’t even afford my own apartment, let alone my son’s medical bills.

I’d tell President Trump that he must keep his promise to deliver “more jobs and better wages” for workers. He’s been in office for nearly 100 days, and his promise is now overdue. 

That’s why workers like me at the Pentagon, U.S. Capitol, Senate, Smithsonian museums and other federal landmarks are on the streets today as part of a broader campaign to fight for Good Jobs Nation

If President Trump wants to create “more jobs and better wages,” he could lead by example and help the workers who serve our military and our nation. Right now, the U.S. government is America’s No. 1 low-wage job creator, funding over 2 million poverty jobs with contracts, loans and grants with private companies. That’s more poverty jobs than Wal-Mart and McDonald’s combined. Even worse, federal contractors steal as much as $2.5 billion from our paychecks every year.

As CEO of the U.S. government, President Trump has the power to help workers right now. He could sign an executive order today requiring that all companies that receive federal contracts be model employers that provide living wages, benefits, safe working conditions and the right to organize.

And as the leader of the Republican Party, he should call on Congress to pass legislation raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour that’s being announced by Sens. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate Ben & Jerry’s co-founders announce effort to help 7 Dem House challengers Dems look to Gillum, Abrams for pathway to victory in tough states MORE (I-Vt.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: HHS diverts funds to pay for detaining migrant children | Health officials defend transfers | Lawmakers consider easing drug company costs in opioids deal Trump health official defends funding shifts to pay for detained migrant children Judiciary Democrat calls for additional witnesses to testify on Kavanaugh MORE (D-Wash.) and Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottHealthy business vs healthy people — how will this administration address the two? Washington turns focus to child nutrition The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — McConnell warns of GOP `knife fight’ to keep Senate control MORE (D-Va.) today. 

If President Trump and the GOP Congress truly put workers first, it would help me and millions of other workers by creating good union jobs. It would help me go back to college, realize my dream of becoming a child psychologist, and earn enough to support my son. It would also would help our entire economy if workers had more money to spend, the ability to go to college and the chance to help our kids get ahead. 

As commander in chief, I hope President Trump keeps his promise and truly protects the welfare of all of America’s workers.


Mary Campbell is a contract food service worker at the Pentagon and a leader of Good Jobs Nation, an advocacy group for low-wage workers.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.