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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

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Norton, House Democrats Ask Trump Administration to Guarantee Back Pay to Federal Contract Workers Hurt by Shutdown

Jan 10, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today led a group of House Democrats in writing to Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought requesting he direct federal agencies to provide back pay to low- and middle-income employees of federal contractors who were furloughed or otherwise impacted by the government shutdown.  This week, Norton introduced a bill to guarantee back pay to low-wage federally contracted retail, food, custodial and security service workers not getting paid during the shutdown.

The letter was signed by Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Anthony Brown (D-MD), Lacy Clay (D-MO), Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), José Serrano (D-NY), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Lori Trahan (D-MA), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ).

In their letter, the Members wrote, “We have introduced legislation that would grant back pay to low-wage federally contracted retail, food, custodial and security service workers who are furloughed during the shutdown.  Even without that legislation, however, we believe federal agencies can provide back pay to these workers.… After past shutdowns, the federal government has not provided back pay to contract workers.  In addition to our fight provide back pay to federal employees, we are committed to righting this wrong for contract workers…. Providing back pay to these low- and middle-income contract workers who are furloughed by their employers is the right thing to do, and it is in the federal government’s best interest to provide back pay to them.”

The Members’ full letter is below.

Russell Vought
Acting Director
Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20503

Dear Acting Director Vought:

We request that you direct federal agencies to provide back pay to low- and middle-income employees of federal contractors who were furloughed or otherwise impacted by the government shutdown.  We understand that several members of the Senate are writing with a similar request.

We have introduced legislation that would grant back pay to low-wage federally contracted retail, food, custodial and security service workers who are furloughed during the shutdown.  Even without that legislation, however, we believe federal agencies can provide back pay to these workers.

Contract workers and their families should not suffer the consequences of a shutdown for which they are blameless.  Low- and middle-income workers perform jobs that are critical to the federal government.  Many of these workers live paycheck-to-paycheck.

After past shutdowns, the federal government has not provided back pay to contract workers.  In addition to our fight provide back pay to federal employees, we are committed to righting this wrong for contract workers.  Government contracts typically have provisions to modify the terms of the contract, and federal contracting officers should use these provisions to work with contractors to provide back pay for contract workers who lost wages as a result of the shutdown.

Providing back pay to these low- and middle-income contract workers who are furloughed by their employers is the right thing to do, and it is in the federal government’s best interest to provide back pay to them.  Contractor workers cannot afford the chaos and uncertainty of government shutdowns, and some of these workers may seek other jobs if they do not receive back pay.

We urge you to take immediate steps to ensure that contractor workers 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.

Sincerely,

Eleanor Holmes Norton                                                         
Suzanne Bonamici
Anthony G. Brown                                                                
Wm. Lacy Clay
Joseph P. Kennedy, III           
Sheila Jackson Lee                                              
Gwen Moore
Ilhan Omar                                                                             
Mark Pocan
Ayanna Pressley                                                                     
Jamie Raskin
Jan Schakowsky                                             
José E. Serrano
Albio Sires                                                                             
Lori Trahan
Bonnie Watson Coleman

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