Today, call center workers at Maximus, a federal contractor that employs one of the largest federally-contracted workforces in the country under a contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), won pay increases that bring the minimum wage for all Maximus workers above $15/hour, with increases in wage rates that are in some cases 20% higher than the former rates.
These workers operate call centers that handle Medicare and ACA Federally Facilitated Marketplace calls. Approximately 10,000 Maximus agents perform this work at 11 call centers in nine states. The wage increases come after Maximus workers rallied outside of their respective call centers calling for the company to immediately implement President Biden’s executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 per hour, which is not mandated to go into effect until next year.
But Maximus workers, who are organizing with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) to win better working conditions and a voice on the job, say there is more to be done. Despite the essential health services Maximus call center workers provide to Americans on behalf of the federal government, the workers themselves have a healthcare plan that is unaffordable, with a $4,500 deductible. The majority of federal call center workers at Maximus are women and people of color who live in communities that have been historically marginalized; the low wages at the Maximus call centers contributed to gender and racial income disparities.
Workers are calling for Maximus to stop campaigning against their union, to end all anti-union portions of new-hire trainings and their “monthly matters meetings” and to meet with their workers union organizing committee.
“When I started working at the call center, it’s crazy to think back to – I only made $9.05 an hour. But through organizing with my coworkers and CWA, and our combined political pressure – we have pushed the company and the federal agencies that oversee our work into granting small wage increases over time. Maximus announced this past Friday that we will all be receiving a wage increase above $15 per hour, after we put a bunch of public pressure on them to immediately implement Biden’s recent executive order mandating federal contractor workers get $15 or higher. We are ecstatic to finally receive the raises we deserve but it was not out of the goodness of Maxmus’ heart. We stood up and demanded these wage increases. And we will continue our fight until we win a living wage for all, affordable health care and a union! ” said Anna Flemmings, a Customer Service Representative in Hattiesburg, Miss., that helps Medicare beneficiaries with their claims.
“Workers at Maximus who have been standing up bravely for the pay and respect they deserve finally got a raise that is worthy of the work they do every day for the American people,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. “However, if Maximus management thinks that this raise will buy off workers or curtail their organizing efforts, they are dead wrong. Maximus workers have much more to win through joining together and CWA will stand with them every step of the way until they win their union and negotiate a strong first contract.”