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CWA President & Secretary-Treasurer, Obamacare & Medicare Workers Arrested Outside of HHS Headquarters as They Called on the Biden Administration to Follow Through on Its Commitment to Good Jobs for Federal Contract Workers

Reps. Ro Khanna, Bennie Thompson, Greg Casar, Cori Bush, SEIU President & Other Labor Advocates Joined Maximus Workers to Give Remarks in Support of Their Demands

WASHINGTON, DC – Earlier today, Obamacare and Medicare call center workers at Maximus, the federal government’s largest call center contractor, traveled from across the country to rally and protest outside of the Department of Health and Human Services headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Workers march with banner reading Where Are Our Good Jobs?
Photo Credit: Getty Images for Communications Workers of America

Representatives Bennie Thompson, Ro Khanna, Cori Bush and Greg Casar and SEIU President Mary Kay Henry joined workers in calling on the Biden Administration to back up its commitment to “good jobs” with concrete action. Workers demanded that HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and the Biden Administration require livable wages of $25 per hour on federal call center contracts, ensure workers have access to affordable health care, and to investigate Maximus’s low road employment practices.

Claude Cummings Jr., President of Communications Workers of America (CWA) and Ameenah Salaam, Secretary-Treasurer of CWA were arrested alongside labor advocates and workers during the action. CWA has supported Maximus workers in their struggle, including their latest strike during the open enrollment period last month.

Maximus operates the largest federally-contracted call centers in the country under contracts with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which are overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Maximus workers handle millions of Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicare calls under a nine-year, $6.6 billion federal contract. These customer service agents are predominantly Black and Latina women at twelve call centers.

While the Biden administration has touted its track record of creating good jobs, federal call center workers and CWA point out that the jobs on its multi-billion dollar contract with Maximus fall far short of the Biden administration’s commitments to advancing racial equity and using federal dollars to create good, family-sustaining jobs.

The overwhelming majority of surveyed Maximus workers report relying on safety net programs due to low wages. Nine in 10 surveyed workers report having medical debt or having to forgo or postpone medical treatment due to concerns about cost, and 91% report earning significantly less than the living wage needed to sustain a household with children in the areas where they live and work.

“Federal call center workers at Maximus have been fighting for living wages, affordable healthcare, fair treatment and a voice on the job for over seven years. They have written letters, they have walked out on strike, and they have joined together to demand change." said CWA President Claude Cummings Jr. "President Biden has made clear that he expects federal contractors like Maximus to provide good jobs, but Maximus’ management has turned its back on the Black and Brown women who are the heart of its federal call centers. Workers who help millions of Americans access healthcare can’t even afford to support their own families or go to the doctor, while Maximus' CEO and shareholders make hundreds of millions of dollars. Enough is enough.”

Maximus workers’ demands come amidst mass economic uncertainty by working class Americans as we approach the holiday “spending” season. Maximus is well aware of its employees’ struggles, ironically having launched toy and clothing drives, where employees are encouraged to donate clothing and toys to other employees who are scraping by on Maximus’ poverty wages.

See more on Call Center Workers United’s Twitter:

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