Norton Tells Low-Wage Workers at Rally that Changes in Congressional Policy are Key to Ending Inequality

Oct 16, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today told low-wage workers at a rally at AFL-CIO headquarters that “there is only one entity big enough to do anything about inequality in America – the Congress of the United States of America.”  Norton joined United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 400, DC Jobs with Justice, OUR Walmart, the Center for Working Families, other unions as well as local and regional elected officials as they urged the Walton Family to implement a living wage policy of $15 per hour and consistent full-time hours for workers at Wal-Marts around the country.  Norton said, “The two biggest employers in the U.S. are the federal government and Wal-Mart.  One is responding to workers and the other needs taxpayer subsidies, such as food stamps, to sustain its workers.”  Following rallies by federal contract workers and Change to Win, some of which Norton participated in, President Obama issued an Executive Order (EO) in February that raised the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 per hour.  However, Congress has failed to raise the minimum wage for workers nationwide, from its current $7.25 per hour. 

“American workers must refuse to live in a low-wage, part-time economy driven by corporate profits that are at an all-time high while wages are the lowest in 50 years,” Norton said.  “It is Congress’ responsibility to respond with tax and investment policies that keep the fruits of our economy from being captured by a few at the top, instead of being shared with workers who are building the economy.”

Norton is an original cosponsor of H.R. 5159, the Schedules That Work Act, a bill that grants employees more control over on-call work requests by their employer, the location of their workplace, scheduling notifications by their employer, and fluctuations of work hours.  In July, just before introducing the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act, she spoke at a rally with hundreds of federal contract workers from Change to Win in front of Union Station.  The ROSIE Act incentivizes federal government contractors to support collective bargaining, pay living wages and benefits, to stop wage theft, and avoid paying CEOs excessive salaries.  Norton has called on the President to put the ROSIE Act into an EO.  She also plans to introduce a bill when the House returns in November that would direct federal agencies to give points in federal contractor competition for businesses paying decent wages and benefits to their entire workforce and that permit their employees to unionize so that wages can become a private matter for bargaining between the contractor and its employees.