Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Sen. Tina joined union workers demanding back pay for federal contractors.32BJ SEIU Twitter

While the partial U.S. government shutdown is over, at least for now, and checks are being sent to 800,000 government employees, thousands of federal contractors are not expected to get any compensation for the 35-day shutdown.

In the House, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) introduced the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act to provide relief to federal contract service workers including feed service, janitorial, and security workers.

“The occupant of the White House callusly acted without regard for the furloughed hourly wage earners,” Pressley said at a press conference in Washington D.C. on Tuesday. “He was not thinking of the grandmother raising two grandchildren struggling to make ends meet, or the parent struggling to pay for childcare or students working to repay their student loans.”

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC.), other Congressional leaders, and members of 32BJ SEIU are pressing for action to provide back pay for contracted workers. “We are steadfastly focused on getting back pay for our workers. This is about dignity, fairness and justice.”


According to the 32BJ SEIU, which represents over 600 janitors and security officers who were furloughed and did not receive back wages after previous shutdowns, these workers earn roughly $450 to $650 a week.

Earlier this month, Pressley sent a letter to Congressional leaders, urging them to pass legislation would require any federal contractor that has put low-wage workers on unpaid leave during the government shutdown to provide retroactive compensation and that "any final funding agreement include retroactive compensation for the thousands of low-wage government contract service workers that have had their lives put on hold as a result of President Trump's obsession to fund a xenophobic hate wall."

Now, congressional representatives and 32BJ SEIU are urging people to sign an online petition in support of their efforts to secure back pay for federally contracted workers as a new deadline of Feb. 15 looms for Congress to come up with the funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico before another shutdown goes into effect.

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