Today, essential workers across the country held a series of “Moral Monday” rallies outside of state offices of U.S. Senators in support of a $15 per hour minimum wage, the elimination of the subminimum wage for tipped workers, union rights for all, and full and just COVID-19 relief. The events were organized by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), Poor People’s Campaign, SEIU, One Fair Wage and others.
Workers are also calling for equitable vaccine distributions and health care for all, including Medicaid expansion.
“I am a grandmother, a mother, and a hard working, God-fearing woman,” said Tonya Jackson, a worker at one of Maximus’ call centers who makes around $11 an hour and works as a home health aid for supplemental income. “I only receive the bare minimum required by law for my job as a federal contractor worker, just around $11 an hour for complex work. When your employer pays you the legal minimum, whether the criminally low federal minimum wage of $7.25, or the minimum amount the federal government has set for its contractors’ employees, it tells you something. It tells you that your employer would gladly pay you less if they could get away with it.”
Maximus employs one of the largest federally-contracted workforces in the country under a contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to 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.
“If we made more, it would help reduce racial and gender pay disparities in our community and help boost our local economy,” Jackson continued. “I believe in fair pay for an honest day’s work, and a $15 an hour minimum wage is a good start to ensuring all of America isn't merely surviving but truly living the American dream. It’s time for Congress to act.”
Despite the essential health services Maximus call center workers provide to Americans on behalf of the federal government, they are paid as little as $11 and change an hour. The majority of federal call center workers at Maximus are women and people of color who live in communities that have been historically marginalized, so the current low wages at the Maximus call centers contribute to gender and racial income disparities.
Maximus workers at the CMS call centers are organizing to join the Communications Workers of America to win better working conditions and a voice on the job.