Federally contracted workers at two Smithsonian eateries have gone on strike, demanding a living wage. The workers, all employed by McDonald's Corp. and Restaurant Associates, are asking President Obama to ensure that employees of federally funded museums receive better pay.
The workers are represented by Good Jobs Nation, a workers' rights group that advocates for employees of private companies contracted by federal offices. Through contracts with private employers, the federal government is the largest employer of low-wage employees in the nation, according to the organization's homepage. On the strike, the organization had this to say in a statement:
These low-wage workers are part of an invisible army of 2 million workers employed by private businesses that serves the American public by greeting visitors and selling memorabilia at the Smithsonian Museums, working in the food courts at government buildings like Union Station and the Ronald Reagan Building, driving trucks hauling federally-owned loads, and making military uniforms for our troops.
The workers also have launched a formal complaint with the Labor Department, claiming that their employers paid them below minimum wage and failed to pay them for overtime. Thursday's protest was also scheduled to include a "performance piece," wherein Ronald McDonald and Uncle Sam hop into bed together.