As the country tries to recover from the longest federal government shutdown in history, hundreds of thousands of federal employees are expected to receive back-pay. However, hundreds of thousands of federal contractors will not receive such relief to ease the burdens of missed paychecks, unless Congress intervenes.
Many local Goodwill® organizations participate in the AbilityOne program, a federal initiative to help people who are blind or have other significant disabilities find employment through a national network of nonprofit agencies that contract with the federal government. Because of the shutdown, thousands of people with disabilities in the network and their families have been impacted. These dedicated employees also fear that they will be forgotten as Congress provides back-pay for their federal employee counterparts.
Media coverage of the shutdown highlighted the struggles that furloughed employees faced as nonprofits stepped up to provide food, toiletries, temporary staffing, and other supports in services. Those workers living paycheck-to-paycheck are not alone. According to a new report from Prosperity Now, millions of Americans are one missed paycheck away from poverty. Furthermore, the report finds more than 1 in 10 households have fallen behind on their bills, nearly one-third don’t have a savings account, and close to 40% don’t have money put aside for an emergency.
Members of Congress are taking action to ensure back pay for federal contract workers. On January 16th, Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07) introduced the bicameral Fair Compensation for Low Wage Contract Employees Act of 2019 — a proposal that will provide back-pay and restored benefits for thousands of low-wage service workers currently ineligible for retroactive compensation now that the government shutdown is over. This legislation will ensure that contract workers, including low-wage food service, janitorial and security service contract workers, are fairly compensated for the wages and benefits lost due to the government shutdown.
Take action via GII’s Legislative Action Center and urge Congress to provide back-pay to federal contractors and to cosponsor this measure (Goodwill CEOs click here to access the CEO Legislative Action Center).
While we are glad that the government is re-open, (and we encourage lawmakers to keep the government open), this measure needs to pass to make federal contractors whole as they try to recover from the longest government shutdown in history.