Stop Wage Theft on Federal Contracts

By Kathleen Flick

The work I do -- helping Americans gain access to healthcare under the Affordable Care Act and Medicare programs -- saves lives. I’m proud to serve my fellow citizens and help those who are sick and vulnerable.

Unfortunately, my employer, General Dynamics Information Technology, doesn’t treat me like a lifesaver.

Despite receiving billions of dollars in lucrative taxpayer-funded contracts, evidence shows that GDIT has cheated me and other call center workers out of more than $100 million in unpaid wages. In addition, GDIT illegally threatened workers to keep us from being represented by our union, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), according to a complaint issued recently by an acting regional director of the National Labor Relations Board.   

As someone who saves lives for a living, I shouldn’t be victimized by wage theft and illegal threats. I shouldn’t have to struggle to survive because I’m not paid what I deserve.

Every month, I have to make choices between paying my utility bills or getting the prescriptions I need. I can’t even afford to travel to see my kids - who are active duty military - when they are back in the states.  

I struggle because GDIT - one of the largest federal contractors in the call center industry - is illegally misclassifying workers at lower pay rates than we’re owed under US law, and opposing our efforts to form a union.   

That’s why I’m joining with CWA to file a national wage theft complaint against GDIT with the US Department of Labor.   

My co-workers and I filed this complaint - which could be the largest wage theft case ever against a federal contractor - because we believe that it’s time to take a stand against corporations that mistreat workers and make the working poor even poorer.

$100 million dollars doesn’t mean a whole lot to the federal government and GDIT, but to us and our families, it would make all the difference in the world.

The truth is that my coworkers and I are not the only victims of wage theft on federal contracts.   

Research by Good Jobs Nation shows that corporations that contract with the federal government engage in up to $2.5 billion in wage theft from their workers every year. This means that as taxpayers, the money we pay the government goes to companies that routinely violate worker rights -- with zero consequences.

In 2014, President Obama signed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order to crack down on federal contractors who break federal laws. But in 2017, in one his first acts in office, President Trump repealed the Executive Order saying that it was “unnecessary.” I respectfully disagree.  Protections against wage theft are vitally necessary.

For federal contract workers like me, wage theft is life-threatening.  Legal protections are critical.

I love the work I do. A few weeks ago, a man who had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called me.  He said the treatment cost $4 million. He was scared because he thought he wouldn’t be able to get coverage.  But when I helped him obtain the insurance he needed, he started to cry. He told me that me that I saved his life.

If I’m going to keep saving lives, I need our government to step up and ensure that companies that receive taxpayer dollars are not allowed to abuse workers like me.

It’s time for Uncle Sam to send corporations - like GDIT - a loud and clear message:  Federal contractors must follow the laws and treat their employees fairly.

Kathleen Flick is an Internal Support Group Specialist for the Medicare and ACA GDIT call center in Bogalusa, LA.