Today we’re sharing the story of Barbara Westbrook, a worker in Chester, Virginia, who handles calls for the Affordable Care Act and Medicare. She walked off the job this week on her first strike.
Here’s why: “I’m striking because no one should have to be forced to choose between paying a bill and putting food on the table—especially those working for a multibillion-dollar federal contractor like Maximus.”
Barbara and her colleagues are fighting for a $25-an-hour living wage to be paid in line with what other federal call center workers make. They’re also asking for fair layoff policies. Recently, Maximus laid off 700 of Barbara’s colleagues with little notice.
Will you show your support for Barbara and the other courageous Maximus workers who are striking this week?
When these workers return to work, this is the letter they will walk back in with. The more people who sign, the stronger show of force they’ll have when they return.
Barbara reports that there is a serious atmosphere of fear and intimidation: “Now people are scared because they don’t know if they’ll be next. The layoffs have made people decide to come to work sick, or with their children in the car waiting to be picked up because they can’t afford a sitter and are afraid of being even a little late. The call center is like a morgue because people are afraid. Maximus treats us like we don’t matter, like we’re replaceable. It doesn’t care about anybody’s pockets but their own.”
“I’ll be honest that at first I was afraid of joining the strike. But I decided that it was something I had to do. We’re not just striking for ourselves, but for all of our co-workers. We have rights, we can speak up and we can take action together. And when we win the better working conditions we deserve, it won’t be just for us, but also for future Maximus workers, so parents won’t have to work a second job, so they can spend more time with their kids.”