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Federal Contract Workers’ Calls for Paid Sick Leave, a Union Have Gone Unanswered


Today, March 23, on the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, call center workers at Maximus, a federal contractor that employs one of the largest federally-contracted workforces in the country under a contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), will stage their first-ever strike at two of Maximus’ largest call centers, located in Bogalusa, Louisiana and Hattiesburg, Mississippi, after their demands for fair pay, paid sick leave, and the opportunity to form a union without retaliation have gone unanswered.

Maximus workers operate call centers that handle Medicare and ACA Federally Facilitated Marketplace calls. Approximately 10,000 Maximus agents perform this work at eleven call centers in nine states.

IN BOGALUSA, LA:

WHEN: Wednesday, March 23, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM CENTRAL

WHERE: Touch of Class Auto Detailing, 701 S Columbia St, Bogalusa, LA 70427

WHO: Bogalusa Maximus Workers, Step UP Louisiana members, Louisiana NAACP, Kenneth Martin - Democratic Chair Washington Parish, United Campus Workers, CWA Local 3404 members

IN HATTIESBURG, MS:

WHEN: Wednesday, March 23, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM CENTRAL

WHERE: Cloverleaf Mall on the Public Grass next to Captain D’s at 1906 Arcadia St Hattiesburg, MS

WHO: Hattiesburg Maximus workers, United Campus Workers advocates, Mississippi NAACP, Reverend Willy Clark, Reverend Anthony McCullum, Forest County Democratic Party, CWA Local 3509 members

Following the strikes, Chris Shelton, President of Communications Workers of America (CWA), Rev. Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign, Sanchioni Butler of AFL-CIO and state legislators in Mississippi and Louisiana will join Maximus workers across the country in solidarity for a virtual town hall at 2:00 PM CT, where speakers will discuss the impacts of Maximus’ policies and practices on its workers and steps the company must take to ensure justice and fairness for its employees.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 23, 2:00 PM CT

SPEAKERS:

  • Sheree Collier, Maximus Call Center Worker

  • Haley Jefcoat, Maximus Call Center Worker

  • Chris Shelton, President of CWA

  • Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, Poor People’s Campaign

  • Mississippi State Senator Juan Barnett (via video)

  • Hattiesburg City Councilperson, Dave Ware (via video)

  • Mississippi AFL-CIO Organizer Sanchioni Butler (via video)

  • Representative Bennie Thompson (via video)

RSVP TO: Madison at madison@unbendablemedia.com. Zoom credentials will be provided.

Workers are calling for fair pay, in line with direct federal call center employees, paid sick leave for all workers, and a fair process to form their union free from intimidation and retaliation. . Maximus workers are currently organizing with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) to win better working conditions and a voice on the job.

“I’m going on strike to protest unfair labor practices by Maximus and to demand paid sick days, equal pay with other federal call center workers, and that Maximus stop interfering with our right to organize,” said Mya Harris, a Maximus call center worker in Bogalusa, LA. “We need these basic improvements to our working conditions for ourselves and our families because no one working for a multi-billion dollar corporation like Maximus should have to worry about how they’re going to make ends meet.”

The Biden administration has made clear commitments to advancing racial equity and supporting workers to organize unions, including in the federal workforce. But as the largest federal call center contractor, Maximus has not aligned with Biden’s commitments, coming under fire after complaints of workers’ rights violations in the workplace, allegations of union-busting, and unsafe working conditions, primarily at its largest call centers in Louisiana and Mississippi, where the majority of call center workers are women and people of color (the workforce at the Hattiesburg, Mississippi call center, for example, is about 90.7% people of color and 80.8% female. The Bogalusa, Louisiana call center workforce is about 74.9% people of color and 82.7% female.)

Last week, a majority of shareholders at Maximus voted in favor of a racial equity audit proposal at the company’s annual shareholders meeting. Maximus will now have to answer to shareholders seeking an independent audit to analyze the real impacts of Maximus’ policies and practices on racial equity within the company and its business operations more broadly.