Senate Dems boycott cafeteria over wages

Senate Dems boycott cafeteria over wages

Senate Democratic leadership is boycotting the upper chamber's cafeterias in a push for higher wages for the workers who cook their food and serve their drinks.

Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBiden fails to break GOP 'fever' Nevada governor signs law making state first presidential primary Infighting grips Nevada Democrats ahead of midterms MORE (D-Nev.) and Sen. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerFive takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision Senate confirms Chris Inglis as first White House cyber czar Schumer vows to only pass infrastructure package that is 'a strong, bold climate bill' MORE (D-N.Y.) joined dozens of staffers Wednesday who brought their own brown-bag lunch instead of buying food from the Dirksen Cafe.

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBiden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal How Biden can get the infrastructure bill through Congress Democrats reintroduce bill to create 'millionaires surtax' MORE (D-Ohio) and his staff organized the first boycott last week. They say they will continue boycotting Senate cafeterias each Wednesday until the workers there receive higher wages and the right to form a union. 

Brown hopes the effort will draw more senators each week until the federal contractor that runs the Senate cafeterias is pressured into raising wages.

"Let’s ask President Obama to bring his lunch next Wednesday,” Brown joked.


The Senate cafeteria staff is part of a larger movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for all workers. They have held one-day strikes on a number of occasions.

The cafeteria employees continued working Wednesday as Senate Democrats and their staffers boycotted the cafeteria. 

"The cafeteria workers, whose names almost none of us know, whose lives almost none of us understand, are paid embarrassingly low wages,” said Brown, pointing out that some of the cafeteria workers are homeless because they cannot afford a place to live.

The cafeteria workers hope the support from Reid and Schumer, the next Democratic leader, will give momentum to their push for higher wages.

“The people that cook the food aren’t being treated fairly,” Reid said.

“If you work 40 hours, you should be paid a wage that’s enough so you can live a life of dignity,” Schumer added.

The senators walked around and met the cafeteria workers, but they did not eat with the rest of the boycotters.