Quantcast
Connect with us

US federal contractors fight for back pay after shutdown

Published

on

With the U.S. government shutdown over, Lila Johnson returns to work on Friday cleaning bathrooms as an employee of a federal contractor, but unlike those who work directly for the government, she is not getting any of the pay she lost during the month-long hiatus.

Johnson, 71, and other union members joined congressional lawmakers on Tuesday in pushing for legislation that would provide back pay to low-wage government contract workers who went unpaid during the 35-day shutdown

ADVERTISEMENT

“I’m a little furious. Why can’t we be paid? We work hard too,” said Johnson, who commutes an hour each way to the federal office building where she works, helping to support two great grandchildren, ages 6 and 14.

President Donald Trump, whose demand for funding for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border triggered the shutdown, signed legislation that makes back pay available for 800,000 federal employees. But that legislation did not include government contractors.

A bill introduced by Senator Tina Smith, a Democrat from Minnesota, would make back pay available to low-wage workers who are employed by outside government contractors, including janitors, cafeteria workers and security guards. A similar bill has been introduced in the House.

“They clean office buildings and keep us safe and secure and serve millions of meals a year,” Smith said during a press conference at the Capitol. “Why should these hardworking people be forced to pay the price of the shutdown themselves?”

ADVERTISEMENT

It was not clear how many contract workers provide services to the federal government, though some estimates run into the millions.

The Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, which represents Johnson and nearly 600 other contract employees, said its workers earn some of the lowest wages in the federal government.

“They live from paycheck to paycheck,” said Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU. “Even if they return to work, if they don’t get this money back their lives are going to be impacted dramatically forever.”

ADVERTISEMENT

De’Von Russell, a security guard at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, said he does not see why contract employees should be treated differently than government employees.

“Let’s not just flush our money down the toilet. We deserve it just like everybody else,” he said.

Johnson said the school that her two great grandchildren attend provided donated winter clothes to the boys, and she had to cash in a life insurance policy during the shutdown. She said going back to work will not make up for what she lost.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Pay our back pay. That’s the only way I am going to see myself getting out of the hole, because I am so far in debt,” she said.

Reporting by Katharine Jackson; Editing by Lisa Shumaker


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

Why Bill Maher is wrong about fat-shaming

Published

on

On a recent episode of his Friday evening talk show, Bill Maher proposed that society combat obesity by body-shaming overweight individuals. He argued that “fat shaming doesn’t need to end, it needs to make a comeback” to deter people from overeating.

Obesity is a national epidemic that is placing a significant burden on our health care system. Nearly 40% of Americans are considered obese, costing upwards of US$150 billion dollars per year in health costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Continue Reading

Facebook

Cutting health benefits of 1,900 Whole Food workers saved world’s richest man Jeff Bezos what he makes in less than six hours

Published

on

When billionaire Jeff Bezos cut health benefits on September 13 for part-time workers at his grocery store Whole Foods the richest man in the world saved the equivalent of what he makes from his vast fortune in just a few hours.

That's according to an analysis from Decision Data's "Data in the News" series, which found that Bezos could cover the entirety of annual benefits for part-time employees who work less than 30 hours a week with what he makes from stocks and investments in just a fraction of a day.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Oklahoma teen threatened to shoot up school to show co-worker ‘not everyone that owns a gun is a bad person’: police

Published

on

An Oklahoma teen was arrested after threatening to shoot up a high school she had been suspended from over weapons and Nazi symbols.

Alexis Wilson was taken into custody after a pizzeria co-worker reported that she threatened to shoot 400 students at McAlester High School, where she had attended before dropping out as a freshman, reported KJRH-TV.

The 18-year-old had been suspended for bringing a knife to school and then again for displaying swastikas on her personal belongings, a school resource officer told the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image