On Monday, hundreds of General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) workers who have been organizing to gain a voice in their workplace with CWA rallied outside their call center in Hattiesburg, Miss., against poverty level wages, calling for fair pay and a union. They were joined by State Representative Jeramey Anderson, Hattiesburg City Councilor Deborah Delgado, and other local elected officials, as well as members of CWA Local 3509.
On the same day, Georgetown University's Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor released a new report showing that better pay at the Hattiesburg call center would inject millions of dollars into the local economy and help create hundreds of new jobs in the region.
About 2,000 federally contracted customer service professionals work at the Hattiesburg call center. Most handle inquiries from Americans across the country about Medicare and the Affordable Care Act's Federal Insurance Marketplace. Despite the vital services they provide helping Americans get access to health care, most GDIT customer service professionals in Hattiesburg make only $10.35 per hour.
"We deserve better than the poverty wages we are paid. Every day it's a choice about what types of sacrifices we have to make," said Anna Flemmings, a Tier 1 Medicare agent at the call center. "And it breaks my heart to constantly have to tell my son 'no' when he asks for something because we can't afford anything but the bare necessities."
Due to these poverty level wages, many employees at the call center are forced to rely on public assistance and still struggle to scrape by.
"No one working full-time providing essential services to Americans and doing complex and critical work for a federal contractor should be living in poverty," said Tracy Wolverton, a trainer at the call center. "Higher pay at the Hattiesburg call center would also mean more funding for our schools, more spending at local businesses, and economic growth in our communities."
Earlier this month, GDIT announced that it is selling its call center operations, including its Hattiesburg call center, to Maximus, Inc. Maximus has informed the Hattiesburg call center workers that it intends to continue paying them the same poverty level wages as GDIT.
On Monday, hundreds of General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) workers who have been organizing to gain a voice in their workplace with CWA rallied outside their call center in Hattiesburg, Miss., against poverty level wages, calling for fair pay and a union.