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Million Federal Contract Workers Won’t Get Back Pay for Shutdown

February 9, 2019

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

WASHINGTON—The 800,000 federal employees who were furloughed or forced to work without pay during the five-week-long partial government shutdown are scheduled to receive back pay this month—but more than a million who work for federal contractors aren’t guaranteed anything. “Contracted workers are still in limbo,” 32BJ SEIU President Hector Figueroa told the Associated Press. “The men and women who clean and secure federal buildings have been living on the edge of disaster for five weeks. Many of these workers are facing eviction, power shut-offs, hunger, and even going without lifesaving medications. And unlike direct federal employees, they may never be made whole.” These workers already make less than regular federal workers, generally $450 to $650 a week. Audrey Murray-Wright, a widow who is a cleaning supervisor at the National Portrait Gallery, said the worst thing was having to ration food to her two sons.  “I never, ever want to tell my son, ‘Don’t drink all that milk so you can save your brother some,’” she said, choking up. Three Democratic senators introduced a bill in December that would repay contractors up to $965 per week, but the measure hasn’t moved yet. Read more

February 9, 2019

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