U.S. Capitol workers, others to strike for higher pay, union

10th strike by federal contract staffers since May 2013

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Some U.S. Capitol workers on Thursday will join for the first time a strike by other federal contract workers to press President Barack Obama to boost pay and spur unionization, a spokesman for strike organizers said.

About two dozen food service workers will be among several hundred federal contract employees expected to strike at the white-domed Capitol, Smithsonian museums, the Pentagon and other sites, said Paco Fabian, a spokesman for the Good Jobs Nation campaign for better pay and benefits.

The strikers want Obama to order improved pay and benefits for federal contract workers, he said. Obama has approved $10.10 an hour for workers on new contracts starting in January and has ordered better compliance on contracts.

"We need more than the minimum, and what the president has done so far is the minimum," Fabian said.

The strikers and Good Jobs Nation want a presidential order that would give contract preference to companies that pay at least $15 an hour, provide benefits and allow collective bargaining. The one-day strike is the 10th by federal contract workers spearheaded by Good Jobs Nation since May 2013.

Some of the workers expected to strike at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center's cafeteria earn $12 an hour, but work less than 40 hours a week, Fabian said.

The national minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and Republicans in Congress have blocked Obama's proposal to raise it to $10.10. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia had minimum pay above the federal level as of Aug. 1, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Voters in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota last week approved minimum wage increases, and Illinois voters approved an advisory measure, the Conference said.

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