Washington: Capitol Hill Sweatshop

Capitol Hill Sweatshop

Deep in the bowels of the building, the employees toil in cramped, poorly ventilated rooms, working up to 70 hours a week without overtime. A Dickensian tale about a 19th century sweatshop? Hardly. The scene takes place in the mail "folding room" of the U.S. House of Representatives, where workers have long complained about "prison-like" conditions of employment.

The quiet scandal, uncovered by the Washington newspaper Roll Call, exists because Congress may constitutionally exempt itself from compliance with its own laws. As a result, congressional employees are not covered by fair-labor laws and civil rights legislation. Thus workers in the folding...

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