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Maximus Workers Take Their Fight for a Union to Congress and White House

Last week, federal call center workers briefed the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and members of the House Labor Caucus about the impact of low wages, unaffordable healthcare, lack of job security, and high workplace stress at ACA and Medicare call centers run by Maximus, a for-profit government contractor. While the Affordable Care Act has been a huge success in connecting Americans to affordable health coverage, it has been built on the backs of underpaid and undervalued call center workers.

“I help hundreds of Spanish and English-speaking callers connect to affordable healthcare that I do not have… Instead, I have my children on Medicaid for their coverage,” Maximus worker Katherine Charles told the legislators. “Maximus puts us between a rock and a hard place on our health. Our low wages and unaffordable healthcare coverage mean that many of us cannot afford to go to the doctor.”

“Make no mistake, these workers take pride in the work that they do,” CWA Secretary-Treasurer Ameenah Salaam told legislators. “However, in order to have their voices heard, they’ve had no choice but to engage in actions like striking, which disrupts services to the millions of Americans who need to access their Medicare and Affordable Care Act benefits.

Maximus holds a $6.6 billion federal contract to provide customer services for the ACA Marketplace and Medicare, employing 10,000 customer service professionals. Many of the federal call center workers, the majority of whom are Black and Latina women, cannot afford healthcare themselves.

The workers have gone on strike six times in the last two years to protest poor working conditions, with more than 700 workers participating in November in the largest strike of non-union workers in the South in recent history.

The workers testified before Congress and shared their stories in front of the White House in an effort to draw attention to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra’s failure to apply the President’s Good Jobs Principles to the agency’s contract with Maximus.

Read more about the workers’ stories in their op-ed published in Newsweek.

Katherine Charles of Maximus 
Katherine Charles (second from right), a Maximus worker from Riverview, Fla., testified before members of Congress that Maximus’s high deductible health insurance forces her to skip necessary doctor’s appointments.