Rep. Pressley, Progressive Caucus Colleagues Lead Letter Urging Back Pay for Federal Contractors

November 1, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and her fellow Congressional Progressive Caucus members sent a bipartisan letter, signed by 87 members of the House of Representatives, to bicameral leadership urging that federal contract service workers - including food service, custodial, and security professionals - receive back pay for wages lost during the 2018-2019 government shutdown.

In addition to Congresswoman Pressley, the letter was led by the Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-02) and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), as well as Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01) and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC).

“As the Senate and House negotiate appropriations legislation for fiscal year 2020 we strongly encourage you to include – consistent with House-passed legislation – backpay for workers who were employed by federal government contractors and who did not receive pay during the most recent federal government shutdown which ended in January 2019,” the lawmakers wrote. “Federal contractors work alongside government employees performing critical jobs that include food service, engineering, security, maintenance, electrical work, and much more. For many contract workers, missing even one paycheck can leave their family unable to pay rent, mortgage payments, or grocery bills.”

Congresswoman Pressley introduced HR 678, Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Federal Contractor Employees Act in January to provide back pay to as many as an estimated 580,000 workers who went without pay during the shutdown. HR 678 would require any federal contractor that placed service workers on unpaid leave during the shutdown to provide retroactive compensation to cover wages lost through no fault of their own. Since then, 48 Senators and more than 70 Members of the House have signed on as cosponsors.

The full text of the letter can be found here and below.

 

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Shelby, Vice Chairman Leahy, Chairwoman Lowey and Ranking Member Granger:

 

As the Senate and House negotiate appropriations legislation for fiscal year 2020 we strongly encourage you to include – consistent with House-passed legislation – backpay for workers who were employed by federal government contractors and who did not receive pay during the most recent federal government shutdown which ended in January 2019.

 

Federal contractors work alongside government employees performing critical jobs that include food service, engineering, security, maintenance, electrical work, and much more. For many contract workers, missing even one paycheck can leave their family unable to pay rent, mortgage payments, or grocery bills.  Unfortunately, contract workers impacted by the most recent shutdown did not receive multiple paychecks, and they were not made whole at the conclusion of the shutdown unlike federal workers. Federally contracted workers, and their families, bear no responsibility for the shutdown, but ultimately, they continue to pay for it.

 

Unlike their federal counterparts, contractors have not been made whole from the last shutdown. This represents a moral failure on the part of Congress. The House has taken the first step in passing appropriations language to provide this back pay and we ask that this language be included in any legislation that comes out of upcoming appropriations negotiations. This would dramatically improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of American workers who still face the repercussions of the shutdown over the most recent holiday season. 

 

We thank you for reviewing this important request, and we look forward to working with you to ensure impacted federal contract workers receive the pay they missed through no fault of their own.

 

Sincerely,

 

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