The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today announced that after the House of Representatives returns from recess next week, the Congresswoman will introduce a bill to grant back pay to federally contracted retail, food, custodial and security service workers who were furloughed during last month's federal government shutdown. The bill, which would amend the current continuing resolution, would apply to all three branches of the federal government.
"Many federally contracted workers in federal agencies earn little more than the minimum wage with few, if any benefits, and while others are unionized with a little better wages, all are the lowest paid workers in the federal government and should not be punished because Congress failed to do its job and keep the government functioning for 16 days," said Norton. "Congress did the right thing when it gave back pay to federal employees, who work in the same buildings as these low-wage service workers. However, both groups of workers were victims who deserve to be made whole. I recognize, of course, that contract workers are employees of contractors, but the distinction between federal workers and at least the lowest-paid service workers who serve the federal government and its employees and keep their premises clean, fails when it comes to a deliberate government shutdown. Unlike many other contractors, those who employ service workers have little latitude to help make up for lost wages. Federally contracted service workers could least afford the loss of pay during the shutdown, and should not now have to go to work every day with everyone else in their federal buildings having received back pay except for them."
Norton, whose district is what she has called "the high-profile home of the federal government's collusion with those that pay low wages through leases and contracts with federal agencies," has long-fought for improved wages and fairness for workers employed by federal contractors, as well as for federal employees. Earlier this year, workers employed by fast food and other retail and concession contractors that work with the federal government attended a Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) hearing that included Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), CPC co-chairs Congressmen Keith Ellison (D-MI) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and other members of the CPC, including Norton.