Mazie Hirono Wants the Government to Hurry with Furloughed Workers’ Back Pay
Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) wants the federal government to hurry up with the back pay for furloughed workers. She and her colleagues wrote to the Trump Administration urging the Office of Personnel Management to expedite paychecks after workers have gone without pay for 35 days -- the longest shutdown in U.S. history. “These federal workers have seen bills pile up during the government shutdown, and many of them are currently paying high interest on credit cards or even payday loans to afford basic needs. We have heard from civil servants who will not be able to make their February rent or mortgage payment without their back pay,” the lawmakers write. The letter follows the enactment of the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act, which was signed into law on January 16th, and ensures all federal workers who were furloughed or required to work during the government shutdown will receive back pay. The law also directs that the federal government provide back pay “at the earliest date possible after the lapse in appropriations ends, regardless of scheduled pay dates.” The lawmakers conclude in their letter, “This government shutdown made it clearer than ever just how dedicated civil servants are to their jobs, and how vital those jobs are to the nation. We ask that you publicize when exactly these civil servants can expect to receive their back pay, and we hope it will arrive very soon.” Unfortunately, more than a million federal contract workers won’t get back pay. Contract workers are among the lowest paid federal employees, earning between $450 and $650 per week. They’re often the cooks, guards, janitors, and other support workers at federal buildings. Last week, Hirono introduced legislation to secure back pay for these workers. The Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act, introduced with Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), would provide back pay up to $600 per paycheck for employees of federal contractors who were furloughed or had their hours reduced due to the government shutdown. More here.