Workers Battle Arlington National Cemetery Contractor For Better Pay

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Grounds workers at Arlington National Cemetery will meet with officials for negotiations Wednesday after launching a strike protesting low wages and a lack of sick leave.

Roughly two dozen groundskeepers gathered with representatives from Laborers’ International Union of North America Tuesday for a silent protest of the federal contractors who pay them for upkeep of the historic cemetery. Many workers do not have any annual paid sick leave and make roughly $13 dollars an hour for their work, reports WUSA9.

The workers say they do not receive raises and have failed to win benefits like sick leave through negotiations.

“My rent goes up, the groceries and my wage stays stagnant,” Mario Ramirez, a worker involved with the protest, told WUSA9. “It’s really hard to live off of that right now.”

The workers are asking for a 4 percent wage increase from Greenleaf Services, the federal contractor responsible for their pay. While representatives for Greenleaf Services could not speak in any detail, they agreed to meet with workers and their union representatives Wednesday at 10 a.m.

“We cannot comment on ongoing negotiations,” representatives with Greenleaf Services told WUSA9. “However, we have been and will continue to engage in good faith negotiations with the union.”

Officials with Arlington National Cemetery have not picked sides on the issue, pointing out this is between the landscapers and the federal contractors who pay their salaries. Officials did voice hope that the situation is resolved amicably.

“Arlington National Cemetery is hopeful for a constructive and expedient resolution that is fair for all parties,” read a statement released Tuesday. “The personnel represented by the Laborer’s International Union of North America are not employees of the federal government, rather they are contract personnel employed by a federal contractor. As such, the Army and ANC take no position on this matter.”

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