Tell Sen. Lindsey Graham – no wage theft of National Guard caseworkers

The email below is from Kevin McDonnell, a veteran and National Guard caseworker from Rhode Island. Kevin started a petition on CREDO Mobilize, where activists can launch their own campaigns for progressive change. We strongly urge you to sign Kevin's petition to Sen. Lindsey Graham of the Senate Armed Services Committee to ensure that the National Guard caseworkers who provide daily assistance to our service members are paid the living wage they deserve.


CREDO Mobilize
Tell Sen. Lindsey Graham – no wage theft at the National Guard

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Dear 5849376,

Plenty of politicians claim they "support our troops." But supporting our troops does not mean just purchasing the latest weapon systems. It means investing in the programs supporting military families when they need help the most. For the past eight years I have been proud to work on one those programs – the National Guard's Family Assistance Center program.

Every year, Congress passes a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets the priorities for military programs for the coming year. As our lawmakers debate the NDAA for 2018, it is vital that they step in to stop the National Guard Bureau's recent decision to impose massive pay cuts on all 400 family assistance workers across the country, under a new contract awarded earlier this year.1

That's why I started a campaign on CREDOMobilize.com, which allows activists to start their own petitions. My petition to Sen. Lindsey Graham, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee and who – like me – is a former member National Guardsman, reads:

Add a provision within the National Defense Authorization Act that restores the National Guard Family Assistance staff pay.

Tell Senator Graham to make sure the National Guard caseworkers caring for veterans and their families earn a fair wage. Click here to sign the petition.

I joined the Guard in 1972, right after I had graduated from college. I stayed in the service for 32 years. When I retired in 2004, I needed to find a job, but that's not easy when you're a 55-year-old disabled veteran. But when I was hired as the family assistance center coordinator for the National Guard in Rhode Island, I knew it was a perfect fit.

Our mission is simple: to serve those who serve our country. Many of the family assistance workers like myself are veterans, continuing our service to our country by helping the next generation of military members.

We help soldiers and their families handle financial problems like mortgage foreclosures, overdue rent and utility cut-offs. And even more importantly, we connect them to health care resources, including critical mental health support. Every family assistance worker has harrowing stories to tell of veterans who call in crisis because they're struggling with self-harm or substance abuse and even counseling soldiers and veterans who are considering ending their lives.

But in April we found out that the National Guard Bureau had awarded the contract for our work to a new company that was slashing our wages by 30 to 50 percent. I used to make almost 27 dollars an hour. But since April, the new contractor has cut my pay to about 14 dollars per hour. And my experience is typical. Not surprisingly, a third of experienced and dedicated caseworkers around the country have already quit, including all the staff in my state, and dozens more are looking for better paid work.2

This is wage theft. The McNamara O'Hara Service Contract Act determines the wage rates that workers at should be paid while performing work under a federal contract. Some companies with federal contracts purposefully classify their employees at a lower paid wage rate, essentially stealing their wages in order to maximize their profits.3

Tell Senator Graham to make sure the National Guard caseworkers caring for veterans and their families earn a fair wage. Click here to sign the petition.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has the power to reverse these pay cuts and ensure that family assistance workers get paid the wages they deserve. As a former member of the South Carolina Air National Guard, Senator Graham is uniquely positioned to persuade his colleagues that family assistance center specialists should be treated with respect and dignity. Add your name to my petition now demanding that Sen. Graham and the Senate Armed Services Committee take a stand.

We do this job because we love it. We love helping military members, veterans and their families. But when the National Guard Bureau devalues our work, what does that say about how America values the people that protect it?

Add your name to my petition now demanding that the Senate Armed Services Committee take a stand.

https://act.credoaction.com/go/14709?t=9&akid=24329%2E3291973%2EZGhi4z

Thank you for your support.

Kevin McDonnell, Chief Master Sergeant (retired) and Family Assistance Coordinator for the Rhode Island National Guard

Sign the petition ►

References:

  1. Catherine Rampell, "Workers who really do 'support our troops' are getting their wages slashed," The Washington Post, April 24, 2017.
  2. Tracy Richard, "By slashing pay of experienced aid specialists, National Guard hurts veterans," Portland Press Herald, June 17, 2017.
  3. Catherine Rampell, "Hurting those who help veterans," Daily Commercial, May 3, 2017.


CREDO Mobilize helps activists like you make progressive change and fight regressive policies by creating online petitions. Click here to start a petition today.

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