Legislation cosponsored by Udall and Heinrich to ensure that workers hurt during shutdown get paid retroactively passes the Senate; In separate letter, Senators also press Trump Administration to guarantee that federal contractor employees receive backpay
WASHINGTON – As hundreds of thousands of federal workers miss their first paychecks today due to the Trump shutdown, the U.S. Senate passed a bill cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich that ensures that impacted federal and other government workers will receive their back pay. The Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019, S.24, would guarantee that affected employees — including those forced to work without pay and those locked out of their jobs during the shutdown — will get paid as soon federal agencies reopen. The bill also clarifies that employees who had previously scheduled approved leave occurring during the shutdown may take that leave without undue penalty. The House of Representatives also passed S. 24 today, sending it to the president for his signature.
According to public data, over 10,000 federal workers have been impacted by the shutdown in New Mexico, many of whom are furloughed or working without pay. New Mexico was recently ranked as the state most vulnerable to the impacts of the shutdown due to its significant federal workforce and the indispensable role the federal government plays in the state’s economy.
“The Trump shutdown has been a raw deal for New Mexicans, and they are being hit hard as the consequences for this act of political extortion continue to ripple out across our state,” said Udall. “Today, twenty-one days into this Trump shutdown, working families all across New Mexico will keep paying a steep price as thousands of federal workers and their families are stiffed out of their pay. That’s 21 days of economic anxiety and financial insecurity – 21 days that New Mexicans have spent wondering how they will make their mortgage or rent payments, and put food on the table to feed their families. This legislation would relieve them of some measure of uncertainty by guaranteeing that they receive back pay as soon as the government reopens. Federal employees work hard to serve our country, day in and day out. They don’t deserve to have their lives thrown into chaos because the president has chosen to hold their paychecks hostage. I urge President Trump to stop playing politics with the livelihoods of working families and this end this shutdown now so that they can get paid their rightful wages immediately.”
“New Mexico’s dedicated federal workers shouldn’t have to pay the price for President Trump’s shutdown. It’s shameful that their lives have been upended by the failure of our president to allow us to meet one of our most basic duties—to keep the government open and working for the American people,” said Heinrich. “We must show our public servants and their families the respect they deserve by guaranteeing that they are made whole as quickly as possible and receive their full pay and benefits once we reopen the government.”
The full text of the legislation is available HERE.
Udall and Heinrich also joined a group of 34 Democratic senators in writing to the Office of Management and Budget to urge them to direct federal agencies to work with contractors to provide back pay to compensate low- and middle-income contractor employees for the wages they have lost during the shutdown. Under their existing authority, federal contracting officers should use provisions that allow them to modify the terms of the contract to work with contractors to provide back pay for employees who lost wages as a result of the government shutdown.
The senators wrote, “Contract workers and their families should not suffer the consequences of a shutdown that they did not cause. Low-wage service contract workers perform jobs that are absolutely vital to the government, such as food service, security, and custodial work. Many of these workers live paycheck-to-paycheck, and cannot afford to pay their rent and other bills if the shutdown continues.”
They continued, “After past shutdowns, contractor employees have generally not received back pay. In addition to our fight to protect federal workers who are being hurt by this shutdown, we are committed to righting this wrong for contractor employees.”
The senators concluded, “We urge you to take immediate steps to ensure that contractor employees get the back pay that they deserve by providing clear directions for agencies and contractors to do so.”
The full text of the letter is available HERE.