Many of us enjoyed a paid federal holiday recently as we reflected on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Imagine if you had to work that day and did not receive any pay. Imagine if you had to go to work since December 22nd without receiving pay. Imagine if you didn’t have to go to work, but you weren’t getting paid and you don’t know when you’ll be able to return to your job. For 800,000 employees in addition to an estimated 500,000 federal contractors and their collective families, they do not have to imagine these scenarios. This is the reality they face along with the challenges of how to make ends meet.
Last week, President Trump signed a law which guarantees back-pay to federal employees who have been furloughed after the government reopens. That does not help those employees in the moment. Furthermore, it doesn’t help those federal contractors. To that end, a number of Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate are supporting the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act (S 162/HR 678) which according to a press release will:
- 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).
Some local Goodwill® organizations and their employees are among those affected as they have federal contracts and 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, over 2,000 people with disabilities in the network have been impacted. This number will continue to grow until the shutdown ends. These dedicated employees also fear that they will be forgotten as Congress provides back-pay for their federal employee counterparts.
Help us urge all lawmakers to reopen the federal government and support these measures that would provide much needed relief to contractors and their employees. Take action via GII’s Legislative Action Center and tell Congress to put people over politics and urge them to reach an agreement to reopen the government (Goodwill CEOs click here).