Freshman Democratic congresswoman pushes for back pay for low-wage contract workers after shutdown

Congressional candidate Ayanna Pressley speaks to reporters after voting at the Adams Street Library on Election Day in Boston, Massachusetts to vote on November 6, 2018. - Americans started voting Tuesday in critical midterm elections that mark the first major voter test of Donald Trump's presidency, with control of Congress at stake. (Photo by Joseph PREZIOSO / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty Images)
Rep. Ayanna Pressley

Most of the 800,000 federal workers not being paid during the government shutdown will eventually get back pay. That’s not true for around 2,000 low-wage workers—custodians, food service workers, and others—because they work for federal contractors rather than directly for the government. Newly sworn-in Rep. Ayanna Pressley is seeking to change that.

Pressley is pushing to ensure that “any final funding agreement includes retroactive compensation for the thousands of low-wage government contract service workers that have had their lives put on hold as a result of President Trump’s obsession to fund a xenophobic hate wall.”

“Many of these employees work diligently day in and day out, oftentimes on an hourly basis and at low wages, to keep our government buildings across the country safe and clean,” she continued in a letter to congressional leadership of both parties. “Regardless of the critical nature of their work, these men and women are forced to live paycheck to paycheck and have been disproportionately impacted by this reckless shutdown.”

Pressley has introduced legislation to correct the situation, something that Democrats unfortunately haven’t pushed in the past. Hopefully these workers will get their back pay this time—and soon—but no matter what, it’s good to have them on the Democratic agenda.

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