“I was homeless, and I worked for the most powerful people in the country,” a Senate food service employee said.
Washington (Talk Media News) – Demonstrators demanding a $15 minimum wage protested Wednesday in front of the Omni Shoreham Hotel, the site where the Democratic National Committee was holding its first public drafting hearing on the party’s platform.
About 200 U.S. federal contract workers and their supporters were organized under the banner of Good Jobs Nation and could be heard from around the corner of the hotel.
The advocacy group wants to establish a voice for low-wage federal contract workers who are struggling to meet basic needs such as health care and basic living expenses.
Charles Gladden, a 64-year-old D.C. resident who has worked in food service at the U.S. Senate for the past 10 years, emphasized the urgency of the issue.
“I was homeless, and I worked for the most powerful people in the country,” Gladden told Talk Media News. “I had to neglect myself in order to service them.”
He explained the impact that poverty has had on his health and hygiene, citing the physical hardship he went through while living on the street that included injuries he was unable to tend to due to lack of health care.
Gladden said that he hopes the incoming presidential administration will sign an executive order to raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars per hour and establish a union for federal workers.
The workers who spoke at the protest remained in good spirit with the hopes of putting their concerns on the national agenda.
Joseph Geevarghese, director of Good Jobs Nation, praised President Barack Obama and his leadership in reversing the problems workers are dealing with.
“Obama should be commended because he reestablished a precedent that was established by previous presidents of the United States,” Geevarghese said. “We are proud that President Obama has picked up the mantle of FDR and JFK and is leading by example. He boosted the minimum wage to 10.10, cracked down on wage theft, extended paid leave.”
Geevarghese said Good Jobs Nation are looking to press executive and legislative action onto the next president, whoever that may be.
The three main presidential candidates remaining in the race have had differing opinions on raising the minimum wage.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has stated that she believes $12 per hour is her idea of the correct federal minimum but has indicated that she would sign legislation bringing it to $15 if it was presented to her.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s Democratic challenger, has been a leading proponent of $15 per hour and his campaign has singaled that they will push for it in their attempts to help craft the Democratic platform.
Trump has made contradictory comments about minimum wage during the campaign, both agreeing and disagreeing with raising it to $15 per hour.
Throughout the campaign season, the Republican candidates have largely opposed the hike, citing concerns that it could force employers to cut back to meet the mandate.
Brittany Butler, a 27-year-old retail worker at Francesca clothing, declined to state a preference in candidate for becoming the next president, but acknowledged that the Obama administration has been very helpful.
“We need the next president to do the same thing and continue his labor legacy,” Butler argued. “I hope this message touches home to a lot of people. There’s no specific race, religion, or demographic this applies to. This is an everybody issue.”
TMN intern John Jamison compiled this report.