Hundreds of cafeteria workers in the U.S. Senate will get checks for back pay, after a Department of Labor investigation found they were underpaid.
According to The Washington Post
, the Department of Labor found that the private contractor hired to handle food service in the Senate did not follow the Service Contract Act that governs pay for employees who work under federal contracts.
"Workers in the restaurant industry are among the lowest-paid workers in our economy. Most struggle to afford life's basic expenses and pay their bills; they shouldn't have to deal with paychecks that don't accurately reflect their hard work and the wages to which they are legally entitled," said David Weil, the head of the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division.
Workers won a raise in December 2015, but earlier in 2016, it was reported that dozens had not gotten those pay raises.
The Labor Department ruled that 674 employees were affected. They will be paid $1,008,302 in back pay, which comes out to about $1,500 per employee.
Restaurant Associates executive Sam Souccar said they were committed to making the payments. Souccar said they had implemented "enhanced monitoring and training" in their accounts in which the Service Contract Act applies.
Good Jobs Nation director Joseph Geevarghese said in the Post report that pay issues in the Capitol are "just the tip of the iceberg." He commended the Labor Department for their actions, but warned that other federal contractors may still be abusing the rules.
"If federal contractors feel free to break federal law right under the noses of lawmakers, they probably feel free to violate the rights of workers all across America," Geevarghese said.
He called for the government to make a policy of contracting with employers that pay good wages and recognize the right for employees to form unions.
Republicans have issued legislation that applies to federal contractors before.
in May that Republicans put in their version of the national defense package removes Department of Defense contracts from President Barack Obama's Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order from 2014.
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