For immediate release
January 4, 2019
UNITE HERE Calls for Continuation of Expiring Healthcare Coverage, Back Pay, to 500 Laid Off Low Wage Cafeteria Workers in Federal Buildings Amidst Donald Trump’s Government Shutdown
Washington, DC – Five hundred UNITE HERE represented federal building cafeteria workers have been out on furlough since before Christmas, and without intervention will lose backpay entitled to other furloughed employees, and lapse of their healthcare coverage effective as early as February 1st. These workers are subcontracted by the federal government, and make under $32,000 a year – and now are facing major life crisis as elected elites play politics with their livelihoods.
“I live pay check to pay check like nearly all of my coworkers, and I’m scared that with losing weeks of income and my healthcare benefits, one family medical emergency for myself, my children, or my grandchildren during Donald Trump’s shut down could make us homeless,” said Lisa Earle, a UNITE HERE Local 23 represented Smithsonian worker. “It’s not fair that politicians playing games put me out of work, and it’s even worse that my coworkers and I may never get backpay for the shut down when we’re just as impacted as all other federal workers.”
“Immigrant families shouldn’t be treated as pawns in a government shut down, and UNITE HERE federal workers shouldn’t be carved out of eligibility for backpay when they have been forced out of work for Trump’s political agenda and are staring down the reality of not knowing if they’ll be facing eviction next month or will even have health coverage,” said D. Taylor, International President of UNITE HERE. “Thousands of federal and contracted workers represented by many different unions are suffering from Trump’s shut down, and all of them deserve to return to work immediately, have maintained healthcare benefits, and to be fully compensated with backpay for the time they were kept out.”
For the 500 UNITE HERE federal subcontracted cafeteria workers impacted by the shut down, many work the job because of the stability and security provided in a unionized workplace, despite the modest pay. Taking the loss of multiple weeks of pay for low wage workers can result in long term crisis, including loss of stable housing, and a lapse in healthcare benefits can wreak longterm financial consequences.
UNITE HERE will be holding an emergency assistance meeting in DC for impacted federal subcontractors like Lisa on Tuesday, and urges compensation for all workers impacted by the shutdown, including subcontracted ones, and continuation of their healthcare benefits throughout the furloughs.
UNITE HERE represents 270,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries in the U.S. and Canada