The following is a media release from Sen. Ed Markey’s office.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, January 16, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), along with her colleagues Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), introduced legislation to secure back pay for the federal contractor employees who continue to go without pay during the current government shutdown.
The bill—the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act—aims to help low-wage federal contractor employees—including janitorial, food, and security services workers—who have been furloughed or forced to accept reduced work hours as a result of the government shutdown.
“This bill is about helping a group of people who are often invisible—people who work in the cafeterias, who clean offices after everyone else goes home, security guards who keep our buildings safe overnight,” said Sen. Smith. “These low- and mid-wage federal contract workers have had to go without pay for weeks now, and in past shutdowns, haven’t received back pay. That’s wrong and that’s what my bill is trying to fix.”
“Just like federal employees, federal contractors work hard to keep our government running. So many of these workers live paycheck-to-paycheck and this painful shutdown has meant that many of them can’t afford to pay their bills. This legislation is an effort to ensure that these contractors who have been denied pay during a shutdown they had no role in causing receive the pay they deserve,” said Senator Kaine.
The Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act, which is also supported by Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Angus King (I-Maine), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M) would:
- Ensure federal contractors get reimbursed for providing back pay, up to 200% of the federal poverty level for a family of four.
- Provide accountability in the equitable adjustment process by including ways for protection of taxpayer funds.
- Contractors would submit evidence of costs for review and approval by the agency’s contracting officer.
- Contractors are already required to keep records of employee pay practices, so this doesn’t create a new obligation for those contractors.
- Cover employees employed under the Davis-Bacon Act (which governs federally-funded construction projects) and the Service Contract Act (which governs federal service contracts).