Out of all the low-wage workers who walked out on strike last year, one group has won a union. About 200 food service workers in the federally owned Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. were able to move from one-day strikes to union representation thanks to an unusual set of circumstances. Frederick Turner, a utility worker at the American History Museum who has been in two unions before, participated in one-day walkouts last year through a campaign called Good Jobs Nation. Turner said he joined the strikes “to show my co-workers that they have the right to stand up for themselves.” Contract workers at federal buildings throughout the capital walked out on multiple one-day strikes. Both food service workers and janitors, in locations from federally owned Union Station to the Smithsonian museums, they had one big thing in common: their employers had federal contracts, making the government their boss’s boss. They declared the federal government “America’s largest low-wage job creator.” With red, white, and blue signs and the iconic Obama “HOPE” posters repurposed to read “HELP,” workers marched chanting through Union Station.
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