National Association of Government Contractors

Contractor Back Pay Not included in Funding Bill

As House and Senate negotiators worked to reach a deal to avert another partial government shutdown, many proposed packages included provisions to ensure back pay for contractor employees -- however legislators were unable to reach such an agreement.
The proposed bills would cover low-income employees . For examples those who work at agencies as security guards, cafeteria workers and janitors as well as some medium-income employees of contracting firms who provide agencies with supplies and services.
In the weeks leading up to the negotiated proposal the issue of border wall funding took center stage -- although numerous bi-partisan attempts were made to provide back pay to contract workers and ensure protections in the event of future shutdowns.
Although many  versions of such legislation were discussed in the Senate -- the one that was mainly supported was contractor support bill (S. 162) introduced by freshman Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., proposing an "effort to make sure Americans who work shoulder-to-shoulder with federal employees receive back pay. These are people who are often invisible--working in cafeterias, cleaning offices after others go home, and keeping our buildings safe--and they deserve back pay."
At the time  Smith presented the Bill, at the beginning of February, Maine Republican Susan Collins offered her support. 
"Government shutdowns represent a failure to govern and harm not only those who need to interact with the closed agencies, but also federal workers, federal contractors and their families," Collins said. "Last month, Congress passed and the president signed into law legislation I co-authored to guarantee that federal employees would be paid retroactively once the shutdown ended. Congress should now take the next step to ensure that federal contractors--particularly low-wage employees…--are given back pay to help offset the financial injury they experienced due to furloughs and reduced hours."
Similar attempts to provide legislative protections for contract workers were also proposed in the House. In the Senate, bill (S. 104) was proposed by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, to avoid future government shutdowns by requiring, following a levelly funded continuing resolution for a 120-day grace period, and a 1 percent across-the-board sequester on agencies until a deal is reached.
However, the issue of border wall funding and their negotiations seemed to eclipse the back pay discussion, and contractor back pay language did not make it into the final version of the funding legislation. 

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