More than 30 workers and organizers joined a strike outside a Maximus call center today. It’s just two weeks after only a couple of call center employees had protested against recent layoffs at their Riverview location.
According to Maximus, it’s a great place to work. In a press release shared today, the company says its most recent employee engagement survey shows that 84% of employees plan to stay with the company for at least another 12 months. But Vicki Stephney only worked there for 9 months before getting laid off.
“I thought that when I got this job, when they hired me, I didn’t have to go any further. I didn’t have to worry about how my rent was going to get paid or nothing, as long as I showed up to work.”
Maximus receive calls from people seeking health insurance through the marketplace, as well as Medicare. But after open enrollment ended, there is less demand for workers to handle the influx of callers. Stephney worked there from October until last month when she was laid off due to what the company called a “Reduction in Force.” But Stephney said Maximus is planning to start hiring again as early as next month.
“Why fire and let all these people go and say we’re going to be rehiring in July?”
She said the company isn’t paying certain raises which she said had been promised to workers. Katherine Charles works with Maximus on the internal support group for marketplace calls.
“And we’re fighting because our wages are not what we’re supposed to be making. We are making not enough money to support our families. A lot of the people that got laid off are females; which are mothers- single mothers. And two weeks’ notice is not enough notice to let someone go who has been in the company a long time.”
Maximus officials did not agree to a recorded interview, but a statement from the company said in part, “We respect our employees’ legal right to attempt to organize, and any information we provide is designed to help them make an informed decision about union representation.” Workers say they earn anywhere from around minimum wage to around $20 an hour, but it’s not enough. Former Democratic state house representative Sean Shaw says the labor organizers in Florida are struggling across several industries.
“It’s not just a ‘today, ‘CWA‘ issue. It’s really all over the state; teachers’ unions, electric worker’s unions, it’s all kinds of unions. And those of us that know what’s going on in Tallahassee need to be out here to amplify the efforts that are going on out here and let people know just how bad it is.”
Last month’s layoffs were the second round of layoffs just this year, and the union representing the workers, says at least 700 employees were let go from several call centers run by Maximus nationwide. The Communications Workers of America filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against Maximus last week, alleging that Maximus laid off some workers in retaliation for speaking out about their working conditions, and offered workers unlawful severance agreements.
Maximus welcomes the opportunity to engage directly with our employees and work together to resolve their concerns. We respect our employees’ legal right to attempt to organize, and any information we provide is designed to help them make an informed decision about union representation. Maximus follows all labor laws and regulations, and we strive to treat all employees equally with respect and sensitivity.
Our employees are engaged and motivated to deliver high-quality customer service to millions of Americans. With competitive wages and benefits, our employees believe Maximus is a great place to work. We know this because we have historically lower attrition rates than normal.
Additionally, our most recent employee engagement survey shows that 84% of our employees plan to stay with the company for at least another 12 months. Over the past several years, Maximus has improved pay and compensation, reduced employees’ out-of-pocket health care expenses and improved work processes and safety. We continue to look for ways to assure that Maximus is an employer of choice. Employees can take a bathroom break at any time. No one is denied a break; no one is shamed for taking a break.
With the end of open enrollment season for Medicare and the Federal Health Insurance Exchange, we entered the time of year when there is diminished demand for our call center services. As an organization, we hold ourselves accountable for our actions. Whenever we make staffing decisions, we prioritize treating all our people with respect and sensitivity. To that end, as a company-wide practice, we coordinate with other Maximus programs to identify available positions for impacted employees.
Our people want to work for Maximus and their passion is making a difference. They consistently provide high-quality service and demonstrate deep knowledge about the programs we support. Thanks to our employees’ performance, we continue to provide the best customer experience to the American public when they need help navigating government programs.