U.S. Senators Smith, Brown, Van Hollen, Kaine, Cardin & Warner Continue Fight to Secure Back Pay From Last Government Shutdown for Federal Contractor Employees

WASHINGTON, D.C. [10/24/19]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.)—along with Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.)—is making good on a promise to keep fighting to secure back pay for federal contractor employees who went without pay during the last government shutdown.  The Senators filed an amendment to Senate appropriations measures that would provide those low-wage workers with back pay.

Sen. Smith and her colleagues say it is unacceptable that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took out back pay language from the House-passed appropriations bills, and they are working to right that wrong in Senate appropriations bills.

You can access text of the amendment here.

“Americans who work shoulder to shoulder with federal employees still haven’t received back pay from the last government shutdown,” said Sen. Smith. “They haven’t forgotten about their missed paychecks, and we haven’t forgotten about these people who are often invisible—working in cafeterias, cleaning offices after others go home, and keeping our buildings safe—and who deserve their back pay. We’ve filed this amendment because we’re not giving up the fight to fix this.”

“Thousands of contract workers and their families were betrayed earlier this year by the President’s government shutdown, and still have not been paid for the work they did over the holidays and into January while the government was closed. Many of these workers live paycheck-to-paycheck, and reported being unable to cover personal expenses like rent or mortgage payments, car payments and grocery bills. We’re not giving up this fight to do right by these workers and get them their back pay—because when you love this country, you fight for the people who make it work,” said Sen. Brown.

“During the government shutdown, thousands of hard-working government contractor employees were stranded without pay for weeks through no fault of their own. Many of these men and women struggled to make ends meet—and they were never repaid for their lost hours. We made it clear at the time that this was unacceptable, and the fight continues. I’m proud to join Senator Smith in introducing this amendment to make our federal contractor employees whole, and I will keep pushing to get this done,” said Sen. Van Hollen.

“It’s unacceptable that federal contractors, many of whom live paycheck-to-paycheck, still have not received back pay to make up for the wages they lost during President Trump’s painful 35-day government shutdown. Contract workers provide critical support to our government. They should never have to bear the brunt of a shutdown they had no role in causing. We’re going to keep working to ensure contractors get the pay they deserve,” said Sen. Kaine.

“The sting of the last federal government shutdown still has not subsided for the thousands of low-wage federal contractors who were never made whole once the Trump shutdown ended. We continue to support these men and women who support the federal government by keeping us safe, keeping our offices clean, staffing the cafeteria and doing the work that needs to be done. The House already has passed this long-overdue fix, and it’s imperative that the Senate also stand up for workers,” said Sen. Cardin.

“Some folks in Washington may have already forgotten about the shutdown that left hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work for more than a month. But for the low- and moderate-income federal service contractors who went without pay for 35 days – many of whom were already working paycheck to paycheck even before the shutdown – the pain of President Trump’s unnecessary, reckless government shutdown continues. The Senate cannot forget about these workers. We owe it to them to provide back pay, and we’re not giving up this fight,” said Sen. Warner.

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. 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), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and every member of the Senate Democratic Caucus—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. Smith also kicked off a series of Senate floor speeches and called for passage of the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act.