Duckworth Presses Trump Administration to Ensure Federal Employees & Contractors Receive Back Pay For Wages Lost During Government Shutdown
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined 33 other Senators in urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to direct federal agencies to ensure federal contractors receive back pay for the wages they are losing during the partial government shutdown. After past shutdowns, federal employees have received back pay to make up for lost wages and Congress just overwhelmingly passed legislation to ensure that will happen after this shutdown ends. However, low-and middle-income employees at federal contractors have not historically received back pay and are on track to be left behind once again. Duckworth has been outspoken about the need to ensure all workers who lose wages because of the government shutdown receive the back pay they deserve.
“Contract workers and their families should not suffer the consequences of a shutdown that they did not cause,” the Senators wrote. “Low-wage service contract workers perform jobs that are absolutely vital to the government, such as food service, security, and custodial work. Many of these workers live paycheck-to-paycheck, and cannot afford to pay their rent and other bills if the shutdown continues.”
“We urge you to take immediate steps to ensure that contractor employees get the back pay that they deserve by providing clear directions for agencies and contractors to do so,” the Senators continued.
Duckworth has repeatedly urged Senate Republican leadership to allow the Senate to vote on the bipartisan legislation that passed the House of Representatives last week to re-open the federal government and end the shutdown.
In addition to Senator Duckworth, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY), Doug Jones (D-AL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MA), Margaret Wood Hassan (D-NH), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Thomas R. Carper (D-DE), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-OR), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT).
The full text of the letter is available below, and a copy of the letter is available here.
Dear Mr. Vought:
We are writing to urge you to direct federal agencies to work with contractors to provide back pay to compensate low- and middle-income contractor employees for the wages they have lost as a result of not being able to report to work during this government shutdown.
Contract workers and their families should not suffer the consequences of a shutdown that they did not cause. Low-wage service contract workers perform jobs that are absolutely vital to the government, such as food service, security, and custodial work. Many of these workers live paycheck-to-paycheck, and cannot afford to pay their rent and other bills if the shutdown continues.
After past shutdowns, contractor employees have generally not received back pay. In addition to our fight to protect federal workers who are being hurt by this shutdown, we are committed to righting this wrong for contractor employees. Government contracts typically have provisions to modify the terms of the contract. Federal contracting officers should use these provisions to work with contractors to provide back pay for employees who lost wages as a result of the government shutdown.
Providing back pay to these low- and middle-income contractor employees who are furloughed by their employers is the right thing to do, and it is in the federal government's best interest to provide funding to the extent necessary to ensure that contractors deliver back pay to their workers. Contractor employees cannot afford the chaos and uncertainty of government shutdowns, and some of these workers may seek other jobs if back pay is not provided to compensate for shutdown-related losses.
Most of all, this wasteful and destructive government shutdown must come to an end. We all support the legislation passed by the House of Representatives to reopen the government, which mirrors legislation that previously passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.
We urge you to take immediate steps to ensure that contractor employees get the back pay that they deserve by providing clear directions for agencies and contractors to do so.
Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to your reply.
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