Federal contract call center workers win $15 per hour wage in Mississippi, union says

Published 8:24 pm Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Federal contract workers at call centers in nine states, including Mississippi, won pay increases that bring the minimum wage for all of its workers above $15 per hour.

The Communications Workers of America, in a news release Tuesday, said the wage increase comes after Maximus workers rallied for the company to immediately implement President Joe Biden’s executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 per hour, which is set to go into effect next year.

“We are ecstatic to finally receive the raises we deserve but it was not out of the goodness of Maximus’ heart,” Anna Flemmings, a customer service representative in Hattiesburg, said in a statement. “We stood up and demanded these wage increases. And we will continue our fight until we win a living wage for all, affordable health care and a union!”

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Workers haven’t elected the CWA to represent them, although some of the workers would like to join the union.

Eileen Cassidy Rivera, a spokeswoman for Maximus, said in a statement that they’ve been working to improve worker wages since they acquired the Medicare and Medicaid Services Centers in November 2018.

“This is just another step in our ongoing efforts to provide our employees good wages and safe working conditions. As a company, we have long supported efforts to raise the minimum hourly wage to $15 for federal contractors, and have applauded President Biden’s executive order of April 2021 to do just that,” she said.

The group of Maximus employees are one of the largest federally contracted workforces in the country. They operate 11 call centers in Phoenix; Lynn Haven and Riverview, Florida; Lawrence, Kansas; London and Winchester, Kentucky; Bogalusa, Louisiana; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Brownsville, Texas; Sandy, Utah and Chester, Virginia that answer questions about health care under a 10-year, $5.5 billion contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The sites have been the focus of labor organizing and complaints since before Maximus bought them from General Dynamics Corp. for $400 million.

Virginia-based Maximus also provides services to other governments under separate contracts.