Maximus call center workers protest working conditions

Tech correspondent Allie Garfinkle reports on call center employees protesting work conditions and environment.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, call center workers who work for Maximus, the largest federal call center contractor in the country, have been fighting to unionize across the South. At the center of their fight, internet access. Let's bring in Yahoo Finance's Allie Garfinkle, who's following that story for us. So Allie, explain this to us.

ALLIE GARFINKLE: Sure, Akiko. So when the pandemic hit, right, these call center workers were more important than ever for a really simple reason. They focus on the ACA and Medicare. So they were categorized as essential workers and sent home, much like you and I were. And what happened was they couldn't get satisfactory internet access in their homes so they could continue remote working, no matter how much they paid out of their own pockets, no matter how hard they tried.

And according to some of the workers I spoke to, this actual-- this issue is actually what sent their unionization efforts into high gear. So it's worth tying this to a couple of different things, right? The first is broadband inequality. We know there's massive broadband inequality in this country. And the Biden administration has even opened up a $42 billion pot for broadband funding to help close that gap once and for all.

It's also worth tying this to the massive amount of tech union activity we've seen over the last few months, over the last year, really. And that group has included Amazon, Apple. But this is a segment of tech unionization I hadn't thought about, Akiko.

Candidly, this story revealed something to me that had truly never occurred to me, which is that beyond tech companies themselves, tech issues could play a part in labor fights for years to come, becoming part of the demands that workers are making even, because one thing that's also pretty clear is that as we increasingly work remotely or in hybrid environments, there's still a lot to figure out.

AKIKO FUJITA: OK, certainly something to think about there. Allie Garfinkle, appreciate that report.