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NEWS: Sanders Sends Letter to Federal Call Center Contractor on Worker Demands for Better Pay

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 – After Maximus, a major contractor that operates call centers for the federal government, failed to respect its workers constitutional right to organize, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today sent a letter to the company’s CEO Bruce Caswell requesting information on Maximus’s failure to respond to workers’ demands as they continue to fight for better compensation and working conditions.

Maximus currently holds contracts with dozens of federal agencies as well as state and local governments in all 50 states. Approximately 47 percent of Maximus’s 2022 revenue came from federal government contracts and 35 percent from state and local government contracts. Nearly 18,000 workers fulfill Maximus’s federal government contracts alone. Of these, approximately 10,000 work in 11 call centers, fulfilling Maximus’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) contract, which it initially acquired from General Dynamics Information Technology in 2018. Maximus, operating as Advantage, is also the largest student loan servicer in the world, managing loans of over 13 million borrowers and totaling nearly $450 billion.

“Maximus’s failure to provide sufficient compensation and workplace protections for its workers has been the source of widespread reporting and worker discontent, even as the company has received many lucrative federal contracts,” Sanders wrote. “Maximus must commit to better wages and working conditions for workers, and to follow the law and respect workers’ right to organize.”

In 2022, Maximus spent $96 million in stock buybacks and $69 million on stock dividends. That same year, Caswell received over $6.2 million in total compensation and the other four top executives at Maximus received over $1 million each in total compensation. Meanwhile, Maximus workers make an average $16.20 an hour. The median employee received total compensation of $39,019, for a CEO-to-median-employee compensation ratio of 161 to 1.

Workers at Maximus CMS call centers have been organizing to form a union with Communications Workers of America Union (CWA) since 2019. They went on their first-ever strike in March 2022 to protest Maximus’s union busting and to demand paid sick leave, pay parity with other federal contractors, and better health insurance. CWA has filed several complaints with the National Labor Relations Board related to the call center organizing actions, including two charges following the August 2022 strike, claiming Maximus disciplined and intimidated striking workers and one alleging Maximus offered $200 bonuses to workers who worked on November 1 rather than striking.

In May 2020, Sanders signed on to a letter seeking information on steps Maximus was taking to protect its call center workers from COVID-19 following call center closures due to COVID-19 outbreaks and reports that Maximus employees were unable to socially distance and provided with inadequate sanitation supplies.

To read the letter, click here.