Today, workers from General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), the top federal contractor in the call center industry, joined a panel discussion on Capitol Hill to shine a spotlight on how labor law violations at federal contractors keep workers in poverty. The congressional briefing was hosted by Representatives Ro Khanna of California and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut.
Stella Payton, a customer service representative at the GDIT call center in Hattiesburg, Miss., said that the phone calls she deals with can be a matter of life or death. "I had a consumer enroll during the open enrollment period. She was literally hours away from her window closing and not being able to get healthcare. That could have been life or death for her if I didn't have the knowledge to help her navigate the healthcare system. Because of the low wages, there is high turnover, and consumers suffer when that knowledge walks out the door. Having a voice on the job can help us achieve fair pay and the dignity we deserve."
"Some of the folks we provide services for don't have someone to help them. I look at it like if it were my parent or grandparent, I would want someone to give them good service," said Amanda Stewart, who works as an Internal Support Group agent at the GDIT call center in London, Ky. "When we found out that GDIT was cheating us out of our pay, it was disappointing, discouraging, and depressing. And it made us angry. A federal contractor should not be violating federal labor laws."
The briefing coincided with the release of a new policy brief by the National Employment Law Project on the continued prevalence of labor law violations by federal contractors including GDIT and XPO Logistics, the disproportionate effects on women workers, and how federal agencies can use existing tools to ensure that their contractors follow the law.
"This is just a basic matter of fairness," said Rep. Khanna. "Workers must have the right to form a union, bargain collectively, and get the wages they deserve."
"The biggest economic challenge of our time is that people who play by the rules are in jobs that don't pay them enough to live on," said Rep. DeLauro. "It is a struggle. Wages have been stagnant for about 30 years. You all are real heroes, and we want you to know you are not alone in that struggle."
GDIT workers' efforts to gain a voice in their workplace with CWA have been gaining momentum. With the help of CWA, GDIT workers have filed wage theft complaints against GDIT with the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division for violations at call centers in eight states – the largest wage theft complaint in history. Since January, more than 2,500 current and former GDIT call center workers have come forward to call on the Department of Labor (DOL) to investigate prevailing wage violations at the company.
In August, GDIT was hit with two new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) complaints for anti-union activities at call centers in London and Hattiesburg.
Workers from General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), the top federal contractor in the call center industry, joined a panel discussion on Capitol Hill to shine a spotlight on how labor law violations at federal contractors keep workers in poverty.