Yesterday, Reps. Ro Khanna and Rosa DeLauro held a congressional briefing featuring workers from General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), the top federal contractor in the call center industry, and XPO Logistics on how labor law violations at federal contractors keep workers in poverty. Female GDIT and XPO employees spoke about the personal harm caused by the companies’ labor law violations.
The briefing coincided with the release of a new policy brief by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) on the continued prevalence of labor law violations by federal contractors, the disproportionate effects on women workers, and existing tools for federal agencies to ensure that their contractors follow the law.
Stella Payton, a customer service representative at the GDIT call center in Hattiesburg, Miss. said that the phone calls she deals with can be a matter of life or death. “I had a consumer enroll during open enrollment period. She was literally hours away from her window closing and not being able to get healthcare. That could have been life or death for her if I didn't have the knowledge to help her navigate the healthcare system. Because of the low wages, there is high turnover, and consumers suffer when that knowledge walks out the door. Having a voice on the job can help us achieve fair pay and the dignity we deserve.”
“Some of the folks we provide services for don’t have someone to help them. I look at it like if it were my parent or grandparent, I would want someone to give them good service,” said Amanda Stewart, who works as an Internal Support Group agent at the GDIT call center in London, Ky. “When we found out that GDIT was cheating us out of our pay, it was disappointing, discouraging, and depressing. And it made us angry. A federal contractor should not be violating federal labor laws.”
“This is just a basic matter of fairness,” said Khanna. “Workers must have the right to form a union, bargain collectively, and get the wages they deserve.”
“The biggest economic challenge of our time is that people who play by the rules are in jobs that don’t pay them enough to live on,” said DeLauro. “It is a struggle. Wages have been stagnant for about 30 years. You all are real heroes, and we want you to know you are not alone in that struggle.”
GDIT workers’ efforts to organize with CWA have been gaining momentum. GDIT workers have filed wage theft complaints against GDIT with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division for violations at call centers in eight states. Since January, more than 2,500 current and former GDIT call center workers have come forward to call on the Department of Labor (DOL) to investigate prevailing wage violations at the company.
In August, GDIT was hit with two new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) complaints for anti-union activities at call centers in London, Kentucky and Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Read more personal stories from GDIT workers who are joining together for a voice at work and better working conditions here.