Andre Blount has been serving meals to dignitaries at World Financial institution headquarters for practically 10 years and says he has gotten precisely one increase — for 50 cents.
This week, as leaders from world wide are in D.C for the spring assembly of the poverty-fighting group, Blount and his coworkers try to convey consideration to what they see as a galling scenario: The employees who put meals on the desk for a corporation whose mission is to combat poverty are themselves struggling to get by.
Union leaders say 1 / 4 of the World Financial institution meals employees employed as a contract laborers by Compass Group North America obtain public advantages — like SNAP, or meals stamps — simply to make ends meet.
“It is sickening,” Blount, 33, mentioned as he joined red-shirted union members this week on a picket line exterior the event financial institution on a scorching afternoon. “They go world wide in search of the right way to assist individuals, however you’ve a whole lot of workers in D.C. who’re struggling.”
Inside, in the meantime, suited-up professionals have been striding by a foyer the place “Finish Poverty” T-shirts and tote luggage are on the market.
Hummus and tabouli station
The constructing’s expansive cafeteria overlooks an indoor pond and caters to even probably the most explicit palates. There is a soup station known as “Ladle and Crust,” a “Mediterranean Desk” station serving hummus and tabouli, and a sushi chef providing made-to-order rolls and sashimi.
A close-by tremendous eating room for diplomats and particular visitors of the financial institution was internet hosting lunch for delegations from India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka.
Most of the meals service employees, it seems, come from international locations to which the event financial institution sends missions.
Blount, after a decade on the job, says he is paid $18 an hour, above D.C.’s minimal wage of $16.10. He says feeding a few of the world’s most necessary individuals in a wide range of service and catering roles ought to pay greater than the authorized minimal.
Blount, a member of the Unite Right here Native 23 chapter, is certainly one of roughly 150 Compass employees employed on the World Financial institution. They’re within the midst of contract negotiations, looking for greater wages and higher well being care advantages.
Financial institution not concerned in contract negotiations
World Financial institution spokesperson David Theis mentioned that whereas the financial institution isn’t a celebration to talks between the union and Compass Group, the financial institution’s workers has “deep admiration and respect” for his or her meals service colleagues. He mentioned the financial institution ensured the employees have been paid all through the pandemic.
Whereas $18 per hour might seem to be quite a bit in some areas, the Massachusetts Institute of Expertise’s “dwelling wage ” index lists $22.15 per hour for D.C., probably the most costly metro areas within the U.S.
Starting July 1, the minimal wage in D.C. will enhance to $17 per hour for all employees, making it one of many highest minimums within the nation. The rise comes as persistent excessive inflation eats at employees’ paychecks and the median lease in Washington is $2,571, in line with Zillow.
“The World Financial institution says its mission is to advertise shared prosperity by rising the incomes of the poorest 40% of individuals in each nation,” Unite Right here President D. Taylor mentioned on a name with reporters. “We predict that first begins in the USA, by compensating meals service employees right here. They work exhausting every single day but battle to pay their payments.”
Compass Group spokesperson Lisa Claybon mentioned the agency was bargaining in good religion and keen to achieve a good settlement. She added that the corporate has “lengthy historical past” of working to “do what’s finest for our workers and purchasers.”
The present negotiations additionally cowl Compass employees who serve meals on the Smithsonian, the Kennedy Heart for the Performing Arts and the Nationwide Institutes of Well being.
Alex Campbell, director of the Worldwide Commerce Union Confederation’s D.C. workplace, mentioned employees across the globe “are affected by a cost-of-living disaster that they did not trigger.”
“To finish poverty and promote shared prosperity on this turbulent second, employees all over the place want first rate dwelling requirements, primary rights on the job, and collective bargaining,” Campbell mentioned. “That is true from Compass workers right here in D.C. to employees on initiatives funded by the World Financial institution Group wherever on this planet.”
Blount mentioned he merely believes that his job ought to pay him what he is price. He added, “If I have been to get a increase from Compass Group, it should assist with saving up emergency funds, paying my payments on time as an alternative of being late.”