Taking a Stand for Worker Fairness on the Hill


Misclassification and wage theft can take place at any job. Just ask scores of U.S. Senate cafeteria workers serving some of the nation’s most powerful about how they were being shortchanged even after they fought hard for fairer wages.

Stephen Ayers, Architect of the Capitol who oversees the workers, told lawmakers during a Senate subcommittee hearing last week that a government contractor that employs about 90 workers at the facility shortchanged many of them even after officially raising wages last year. The company, Restaurant Associates, reclassified many to lower positions making less after the salary change.

The Washington Post reported earlier this year than one worker had gone from being a cook to a food service worker, a change that resulted in his hour wage dropping from $17.45 to $13.80. And while the company has since restored 35 of the 51 misclassified workers and given them back pay, the fate of the other 16 is still in doubt.

Unfortunately, misclassification is not rare in today’s work environment. Companies will often try to squeeze every last dollar of profit from wherever they can, and workers are seen as an easy target. That’s what has been happening with port truck drivers from Georgia to California. And the same thing is happening here.

The Teamsters are a member of the Change to Win coalition, which oversees the Good Jobs Nation project with which these workers are affiliated. And just like this union stands up for port truck drivers and others who get cheated by employers, it will not accept such behavior.

Policymakers on the state and federal levels must now do the same.