Rep. Andy Levin arrested during demonstration for second day in a row

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Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) was arrested for a second day in a row on Wednesday while protesting with Senate cafeteria workers.

The Michigan Democrat joined Senate cafeteria workers in a peaceful civil disobedience demonstration outside the Capitol as part of their push for a union contract, according to his Twitter account.

The congressman’s office confirmed that Levin, a longtime union organizer, was arrested while protesting.

He was also among a group of lawmakers arrested on Tuesday at an abortion rights rally outside the Supreme Court. Levin’s office was one of eight in which staffers began the unionization process this week.

The U.S. Capitol Police said 17 people were arrested during Wednesday’s protest for crowding, obstructing or incommoding, including one member of Congress.

The demonstration came after Restaurant Associates, the food service contractor in the Senate, penned a memo to workers last week informing them that the Architect of the Capitol (AoC) could not guarantee that it had the funds to meet payroll through the end of September, according to Politico.

As a result of the AoC’s message, Restaurant Associates said it “shall manage payroll and staffing to begin to right-size their organization as soon as possible,” giving 56 employees a two-week notice for layoffs.

In April, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had set aside $3.75 million from the AoC to safeguard 81 workers from layoffs, Politico noted. Those funds were reportedly meant to be enough to last through Sept. 30.

On Wednesday, however, Unite Here, the labor union Restaurant Associates employees voted to unionize under, said the AoC told the contractor that the previously announced layoffs would not be necessary for the time being.

Despite layoffs being taken off the table, the cafeteria workers decided to keep their demonstration on the calendar as a way to drum up support for securing a union contract.

The employees voted to unionize in the fall and subsequently joined Unite Here Local 23, but they are still in the collective bargaining phase and have not yet landed a contract with Restaurant Associates.

“While we appreciate the quick resolution of this round of layoffs, these workers need the long-term stability in their lives that only a union contract can provide,” Unite Here said in a statement.

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