In a story rich with irony the Senate, led by Democrat Dianne Feinstein, has voted to privatize its restaurants and food services. The House privatized twenty years ago. The result? Sort of like East and West Berlin.
In a masterful bit of understatement, Feinstein blamed [millions of dollars in losses] on "noticeably
subpar" food and service. Foot traffic bears that out. Come lunchtime,
many Senate staffers trudge across the Capitol and down into the
basement cafeteria on the House side. On Wednesdays, the lines can be
30 or 40 people long.
House staffers almost never cross the Capitol to eat in the Senate cafeterias.
Naturally some of Feinstein’s colleagues were not pleased.
In a closed-door meeting with Democrats in November, she was
practically heckled by her peers for suggesting it, senators and aides
"I know what happens with privatization. Workers lose jobs, and the
next generation of workers make less in wages. These are some of the
lowest-paid workers in our country, and I want to help them," Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a staunch labor union ally, said recently.
The reporter adds without comment, "The wages of the approximately 100 Senate food service workers average $37,000 annually." Who says we can’t get a better press corps?
Feinstein had an ace in her sleeve, however, and when push came to shove she unleashed her threat. Feinstein warned "that if they did not agree to turn over the operation to a private
contractor, prices would be increased 25 percent across the board." Well that was it – the Senate voted to privatize.