As It Happens

He cooks for U.S. senators, but says $12.30/hour wage not enough to feed his kids

Bertrand Olotara is one of hundreds of U.S. government contract employees who walked off the job today to protest low wages, and demand a union.
Bertrand Olotara is a cook in the U.S. Senate cafeteria . (Paco Fabian)

Bertrand Olotara says he's done everything he can to get ahead in America. He has a college education, and works sixty hours a week. But even though he's a cook at the U.S. Senate cafeteria, he still struggles to make ends meet, and relies on food stamps to feed his family.

He tells As It Happens co-host Carol Off, "I do everything it takes, but I don't see my American dream coming true."

Olotara and hundreds of other government contract employees walked off the job on Wednesday. They are demanding to be paid at least $15 dollars an hour, and also want to form a union.

Currently, Olotara is paid $12.30 an hour, with no benefits. He works two jobs to support his kids.

So far, he says, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT.) is the only federal lawmaker to show support for raising the wages of federal contract employees. 

"We just want them to do something," he says. "I think if I have $15 dollars an hour and a union I would have time to spend with my kids."

Olotara says he plans to be back at work on Thursday. But, he hopes the protests will raise awareness in Washington about the struggles he and other workers face.