Workers who handle millions of phone calls from Medicare and ACA participants are celebrating President Biden’s action to begin the process of raising the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 per hour and are calling on their employer, one of the nation’s largest federal contractors, Maximus, to step up and raise their wages to $15 per hour immediately.
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.
“President Biden is already delivering on his promises to lift up and empower workers,” said Cassie Ludwig, who works at Maximus’ call center in London, KY. “But the thousands of us at Maximus who help Americans get access to healthcare, during a pandemic no less, shouldn’t have to wait another minute to get the better pay that we deserve. Maximus should follow Biden’s lead and implement $15 pay immediately to address years of injustice and harm, and should respect our right to form a union.”
Despite the essential health services Maximus call center workers provide to Americans on behalf of the federal government, they are paid as little as $10.80 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.
“This is a major victory for working families,” said Jamie Brown, a worker at Maximus’ call center in Hattiesburg, MS who is a single father and also takes care of his mother. “But our families and our communities are struggling today, which is why we’re calling on Maximus and CMS to ensure this new minimum wage goes into effect immediately for us.”
“President Biden’s Executive Order is an important first step in fulfilling his promise to improve working conditions for the millions of federally contracted employees like the call center workers at Maximus, who have been underpaid and mistreated for too long,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. “This Executive Order is a victory won by the years-long hard work of Maximus workers and other federal contract employees calling for fair pay. Now it’s time for Maximus to take immediate action to put this higher pay in the pockets of its front-line workers and start respecting their rights to organize and collectively bargain so they can support their families and communities in this time of crisis.”
Maximus workers at the CMS call centers are organizing with the Communications Workers of America to win better working conditions and a voice on the job.