Letter to Charles Schumer, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader - Menendez, Booker, Colleagues Urge Senate Leadership to Support Senate Cafeteria Workers


Dear Majority Leader Schumer and Minority Leader McConnell:

We request the urgent inclusion of emergency funding in the COVID supplemental package to support the continued employment of all current Senate dining contract employees. We understand that Restaurant Associates, the contractor, announced a series of layoffs today, going into effect April 15th. After facing down a violent insurrection on Capitol grounds and continuing to serve through more than two years of a pandemic, layoffs should not be on the table. In fact, the United States Senate expressly called for the opposite: workers should be rewarded for their service to this institution, the Capitol complex, and to the people who visit us. Due to COVID related circumstances, foot traffic in the Senate cafeteria has been a fraction of what it was pre-pandemic and catering operations have ceased. We ask that the Senate work on a bipartisan basis to add additional funding in the COVID supplemental to avoid COVID-related layoffs for those who serve the Senate community.

The current pay and benefits available to Senate cafeteria workers are already shameful. Of all cafeteria workers in federal buildings around Washington, DC, Senate cafeteria workers are the least likely to be enrolled in employer-sponsored health insurance or retirement; only 18% have employer-sponsored health insurance and none are enrolled in employer-sponsored pension benefits. For these workers to be laid off after serving this body throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in these conditions would be a stain on our institution. It is imperative that the United States Senate, the Architect of the Capitol, and Restaurant Associates work to resolve this situation at least through December 31, 2022, in order for these union workers to be empowered to collectively bargain for an improved standard of living.

On January 13, 2022, the Senate unanimously passed Resolution 490 honoring Capitol custodial and service workers for their bravery and service to the nation in the face of an attack by violent insurrectionists. The resolution specifically references Restaurant Associates and Sodexo staff in its findings and expresses gratitude for and provides support to Capitol personnel. We ask that COVID supplemental funding save these Senate cafeteria jobs and avoid all possible layoffs.

We thank you for working to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.