Skip to Main

January 17, 2019

Representative Ayanna Pressley, House Colleagues Introduce Bicameral Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act to Provide Relief for Workers Held Hostage by Shutdown

Washington, D.C., January 17, 2019 – Today, U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley, introduced legislation to ensure back pay for the thousands of low-wage contract service employees whose paychecks and livelihoods have been held hostage during the government shutdown.

The Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act is the first bicameral proposal that aims to provide much needed relief for federal contract service workers—including food service, janitorial and security workers—who oftentimes receive low wages and live paycheck to paycheck.

“As a former hotel worker, I understand all too well the reality of living paycheck to paycheck and the struggle to make ends meet. This shutdown has further exacerbated these challenges for the thousands of low-wage service workers and their families across the country who have had to take on second and third jobs just to keep the bills paid and food on the table. Within 72 hours of being sworn in as a member of Congress, I sent a letter to Congressional leadership to ensure that the pleas of these low-wage workers do not go ignored. The following week, I cosponsored legislation led by Representative Holmes Norton (D-DC) to ensure any retroactive pay efforts include these hard-working men and women. Today, I introduce my first bill to address this urgent issue. I ran to fight for the ignored, the left out and the left behind and this bill will ensure that these hard-working men and women receive much needed relief.”

Rep. Pressley’s legislation is distinct from a bill introduced last week by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton – and co-sponsored by Pressley – which would have required certain low-wage contract workers to be retroactively compensated along with federal employees. The Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act of 2019 would provide another mechanism to provide backpay for these workers by ensuring:

  • Federal contract employers are able to be reimbursed for covering costs associated with the shutdown, including retroactive backpay for workers, in an amount equal to their weekly compensation or up to 200% of the federal poverty level for a family of four.
  • Ensure that low-wage janitorial, food service, and security employees as well as those working on construction projects and other administrative supports receive backpay for wages lost during the shutdown.

    Representative Pressley is pleased to introduce her bill in partnership with Representative Holmes Norton and with the support of the following original cosponsors: Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Mark Pocan (D-WI), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Albio Sires (D-NJ) Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Lori Trahan (D-MA), David Trone (D-MD), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ).