Sending Office: Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton
Sent By:

Ensure Back Pay to Low-Wage Federal Contract Employees Furloughed

Following Government Shutdown

Dear Colleague,

Please cosponsor the Low-Wage Federal Contractor Employee Back Pay Act of 2018 to grant back pay to federally-contracted retail, food, custodial and security service workers who are furloughed during a federal government shutdown in fiscal year 2018.  This
bill applies to all three branches of the federal government.

After the 2013 government shutdown, federal workers received back pay, but federal contract workers did not.  While I believe that all federal employees and federal contract workers should receive back pay after a shutdown, we know that we cannot get Congress
to make whole all who are hurt by a shutdown.  My bill focuses specifically on low-wage federal contract workers, some of whom work here on the Capitol grounds providing Members of Congress and congressional staff with daily services, because these are the
workers most likely to be irretrievably hurt by lost wages during a shutdown.

Many federal contract workers earn little more than the minimum wage and receive few, if any, benefits.  While some are unionized with a little better wage, all are the lowest-paid workers in the federal government and should not be punished because Congress
has failed to do its job to keep the government funded.  Congress, historically, has provided back pay to federal employees, who often work in the same buildings as these low-wage contract workers, furloughed during government shutdowns—but not low-wage contract
workers.  However, both groups of workers deserve to be made whole after these shutdowns.  I recognize, of course, that contract workers are employees of contractors, but the distinction between federal workers and, at least, the lowest-paid contract workers,
who, for example, keep buildings clean, fails when it comes to a deliberate government shutdown.  Unlike many other contractors, those who employ low-wage service workers have little latitude to help make up for lost wages.  Low-wage, federally-contracted
service workers can least afford the loss of pay during a shutdown and should not have to go to work every day while everyone else in their federal buildings likely received back pay.

The nation’s capital is the high-profile home of the federal government’s complicity with contractors who pay low wages through leases and contracts with federal agencies.  This bill, at least, would provide some parity to their low-wage federal contract

If you would like to become a cosponsor or if you have any questions about this bill, please contact Trent Holbrook in my office at (202) 225-8050 or


Eleanor Holmes Norton

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