Credit: Courtesy of Maximus, Inc.

Last week the National Labor Relations Board settled a complaint against a federal contractor’s alleged attempts to stop workers from organizing with the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

Region 15 of the NLRB settled a complaint that accused the company Maximus of “interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in federal labor law” at its Hattiesburg, Mississippi and Bogalusa, Louisiana call centers. 

Maximus workers at the CMS call centers are organizing with the CWA in favor of better working conditions and the desire to have a bigger impact on their job environment.

Maximus officials have a rule against employee solicitation. Employees complained that the rule was only used whenever workers “formed, joined, or assisted the union.” The contractor also, allegedly instructed off-duty workers to stop encouraging others to learn about the union in the Bogalusa facility parking lot and used the police to do so.

“All we were trying to do was spread the word about a union barbecue we’d be holding the next day, and Maximus management called its whole security force and the town police on us to try and intimidate us out of talking to our coworkers,” stated Sylvia Walker, a call center worker at the Bogalusa site. 

Maximus officials also, allegedly, denied union representatives access to the parking lot adjacent to the Bogalusa facility, but allowed nonunion folks to use it.

“The fact that Maximus called the Bogalusa police to intimidate workers at a call center where Maximus employs a largely Black workforce is despicable,” added Victoria Miller, a union organizer at CWA who was in the parking lot at the time.

Maximus call center workers sometimes make as little as $10.95 an hour. The majority of employees at Maximus are women and people of color. Call center workers at Maximus are federally contracted.

Maximus, Inc. is the largest provider of Medicaid administrative services and is the Medicaid Managed Care enrollment broker for 22 states. The company also carries out Medicaid eligibility determinations in 13 states.

For its money, Maximus has hired Jackson Lewis, a well-known union-busting law firm, to represent them.

“The Biden administration should step in to make sure these federally contracted call center employees who have been working overtime during the pandemic to ensure that Americans have access to affordable healthcare are not intimidated out of organizing for the pay and benefits they deserve and need to support their families,” stated Miller.