HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Some employees from the company Maximus, formally General Dynamics Information Technology, protested Thursday, claiming they are being treated unfairly.
“The reason we are fighting is so that we can be classified correctly and get paid the correct wages,” Maximus employee Sherry Collier said.
Workers protested for higher wages, more paid vacations and better working conditions. Collier was among the group of protesters standing outside Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg as Maximus corporate officials met inside with local leaders and area organizations about community partnerships.
“I don’t want to work for Maximus because they don’t give you free insurance benefits, they treat you unfairly,” Collier said.
An advocate for employees, Sedjerick Lee is the organizing director for Communication Workers of America. He outlined the group’s main goal and said the baseline pay for employees right now is $10.60 per hour.
“The goal is to unionize Maximus in order to get the workers fair wages and pay," Lee said. "As they fight, we are going to fight. We feel it is worth it, the employees are worth it. What’s going to be gained, even for the city, is worth it.”
Maximus is a global business process outsourcing company operating in nine countries with more than 1,000 employees in Hattiesburg. Minutes before meeting with area leaders, the company’s president and general manager, Thomas Romeo, responded to the outside critics.
“We are very proud of the way we interact with our employees, and I think as they understand working for us, they will be very happy,” Romeo said.
Hattiesburg Area Development Partnership was among the organizations in the meeting with Maximus. ADP President Chad Newell said the company is one of the top 10 largest employers in the city.
“We’ve built a great rapport with Maximus and they have been awesome to interact with," Newell said. "They are a first class publicly traded cooperation, so it’s a real honor to have their investment here in the community.”
Maximus bought the former General Dynamics Information Technology company back in November 2018.
“It’s better wages now. That’s what we want,” Lee said.
“Maximus, please understand we have no problem with you taking over. The problem we have is that we are being treated unfairly,” Collier said.
Corporate officials with Maximus told WDAM the wage rates at the Hattiesburg facility are established by the Department of Labor, rates which the company fully complies with.