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  • Why The Pope’s Visit Is The Perfect Time For A Strike

    Hoping to draw the attention of Pope Francis in time for his arrival in Washington, D.C., federal contractors held a strike Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol for better wages and benefits.

    The federal contractors and their supporters were optimistic the Pope was listening. He has made worker rights a focus of his reign. The contractors rallied through the morning knowing the Pope would be arriving later that day.

    Jose Rodriguez, a supporter in attendance, is confident the Pope will hear them.

    “It’s about wages and worker benefits,” Rodriguez told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I’m very sure he will help.”

    The point of the strike was simple. The contractors want higher wages, better benefits and the right to unionize. To make their message known, the protesters rallied in front of the capital, held a sit in at the U.S. Senate cafeteria, and even started off the day with a speech from Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.

    Good Jobs Nation was one of the groups that helped organize the rally. It even sent a letter to Pope Francis inviting him to speak with them. With his already busy schedule, it looks unlikely he will have the time. Nevertheless, the contractors still hope to make their message heard.

    “We may be invisible to the wealthy and powerful we serve everyday,” the letter declared. “But we know we are worthy of a more abundant life as children of God.”

    The Pope will be in the city till Thursday to speak with President Barack Obama and address a joint-session of Congress. After that, he will travel to New York and Philadelphia.

    “They are making $11.35 with some benefits,” a strike organizer who identified himself simply as Rick told TheDCNF. “We’re asking for $15 and a union”

    Rick argued $15 is basic and fair. It’s not going to make anyone rich or even push them into the upper middle class, but it’s a start. Not everyone is in agreement that increasing wages actually helps less fortunate people. Though supporters often say it will help the poor by allowing them afford basic necessities, critics say it may actually limit job opportunities. Nevertheless, Rick feels their fight fits into what the Pope has been preaching.

    “We’re trying many ways to get the Pope’s attention,” Rick continued. “He talks about income inequality and justice at work.”

    As for the union, he noted they don’t have a particular one in mind. They just want to pave the way so the right one will be able to come in. Though he believes there is still a lot to do, he’s optimistic.

    “We already won three executive orders,” Rick proudly said. “That means the president is listening.”

    Indeed, the president has done a lot to change how federal contracting works. Through executive orders, he has required a $10.10 minimum wage, more days  for sick leave and has created rules which make it easier for companies to be banned from federal contracts for violating labor laws. Though the president has been praised by some for his efforts, business groups argue the changes go too far and could hurt companies.

    The Pope has also gotten positive reviews from labor unions for his view on worker rights. Leadership in the AFL-CIO, Teamsters and Service Employees International Union have all expressed their admiration for his work this week.

    Follow Connor on Twitter

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    Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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