WASHINGTON, D.C. [02/13/2019]—Tonight, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) released the following statement highlighting the need to secure back pay for federal contractor employees who went without pay during the recent government shutdown. Sen. Smith expressed disappointment that reports indicate her bipartisan legislation is not included in the budget agreement to avoid another shutdown, but said she will keep fighting for these workers.
“During the longest federal government shutdown in history, thousands of Americans who serve as contractors to the federal government lost over one month’s pay, through no fault of their own. These are people who work as security guards and clean office buildings, and work shoulder to shoulder with federal employees for all of us,” said Sen. Smith. “According to recent reports, it seems they are left out in the cold, with no back pay. My legislation to right this wrong, which had bipartisan support, should have been included in the final budget deal, but I’m not done fighting to make this right, and I’ll keep on working to get it done.”
On January 4, Sen. Smith pledged to stand up for federal contract workers and announced plans to introduce legislation to secure back pay for the contractor employees who were going without pay during the government shutdown. Later that month, Sen. Smith followed through on that promise by introducing the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act with Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.). Since introducing the bill—which has bipartisan support from Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)—Sen. Smith took part in a roundtable with Sens. Van Hollen and Cardin and federal contract workers hurt by the shutdown. Sen. Smith also hosted an event with Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)—who is leading the House companion bill—Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), other Congressional leaders, and members of 32BJ SEIU, which represents over 600 modestly paid janitors and security officers who were furloughed and did not receive back wages after previous shutdowns. The Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act is currently supported by 49 Senators (including Sen. Smith) and over 60 members of the House. Last week, Sen. Smith kicked off a series of Senate floor speeches and called for passage of the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act.