Vermont Immigration Workers Fighting for Fair Benefits

BURLINGTON, September 8 - Senator Bernie Sanders joined workers from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Center in St. Albans at a press conference this morning in his Burlington office.

Sanders said, "All over Vermont and America the middle class is struggling to keep their heads above water. While energy costs go up, while food costs go up, while health care costs go up, while college costs go up - wages are often remaining stagnant, and in some cases are actually going down.

"I cannot think of a clearer example of what is happening to working families in Vermont and America than what is happening to employees at the Citizen and Immigration Services in St. Albans. What is especially galling in this case, is that these employees are doing important and stressful for our federal government through a contract with Northrop Grumman- a major multinational corporation. These employees have a heavy responsibility of going through visa applications to make sure that people who enter our country are who they say they are and mean us no harm.

"The simple economic reality facing these hard working employees is that they did not receive a pay increase from their last employer for four years and now Northrop is proposing a contract for them which would provide no wage increases for another three years. In addition Northrop wants to take away the five paid sick/personal days these employees had had under the previous contractor. In other words, if Northrop gets their way, these 125 Vermont Service Center employees would have no pay increase at all for a seven year period and would loose all their sick/personal days. This is simply unacceptable. I should add that a number of these employees are single moms.

"We should also be very clear that Northrop Grumman is not exactly a struggling mom and pop operation. Last year, Northrop made $1.8 billion in profits; and almost 40 percent of Northrop's $32 billion in revenue comes from the federal government. I should also add that their CEO, Dr. Sugar received over 20 million dollars in total compensation."

Sanders supports the workers' fight for fair wages and personal/sick days from Stanley Associates, Northrop Grumman and the Federal Working Group. The workers have not received a pay increase in 4 years and had their paid sick days taken away from them last December.