Republicans won't lift a finger to help 580,000 unpaid workers


Republicans will bend over backward to give billionaires a tax break, but they won't do a thing to help half a million workers get back pay.

After the 35-day Trump shutdown finally ended, more than half a million workers are at risk of never receiving any back pay. While Democrats spent January crafting legislation to address the situation, Republicans can't be bothered to help.

With the shutdown over, an estimated 800,000 federal workers will soon receive back pay. But according to Vox, another 580,000 contractors — including janitors, cafeteria workers, and security guards — might never see a penny of back pay from the 5-week shutdown.

Democrats in the House and Senate are working on legislation to fix this loophole.

"As a former hotel worker, I understand all too well the reality of living paycheck to paycheck and the struggle to make ends meet," Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) said in a statement introducing the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act.

The Trump shutdown "further exacerbated these challenges for the thousands of low-wage service workers and their families across the country who have had to take on second and third jobs just to keep the bills paid and food on the table," she added.

Her legislation would ensure federal contract workers would receive back pay for wages lost during the shutdown.

During the shutdown "federal contractors were left in the dark, unaware of when their next paycheck would come," Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), a cosponsor of the bill, told Shareblue Media. He added that "receiving their well-deserved backpay is a step towards correcting the injustice that this president has inflicted upon them."

While the bill has 29 cosponsors so far, not a single Republican has signed on to endorse the bill. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and the Republican Party fought tooth and nail in 2017 to ensure Wall Street billionaires and wealthy corporate CEOs received billions of dollars in tax breaks, while leaving middle-class families out in the cold fought tooth and nail in 2017 to ensure Wall Street billionaires and wealthy corporate CEOs received billions of dollars in tax breaks, while leaving middle-class families out in the cold.

The same Republican Party that was eager to increase the national deficit by almost $2 trillion in order to provide tax breaks that mainly benefited the richest one percent, but now is willing to turn a cold shoulder to janitors and security guards.

It is not only House Republicans who cannot be bothered to help half a million workers. Senate Republicans also refuse to support a complementary effort in that chamber, led by Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN). That bill, which has the same title as the House companion version, has the support of 32 Senators.

"This is about fairness — American workers shouldn't be forced to go without a paycheck simply because of President Trump's government shutdown," Smith said in a statement introducing the bill. "It's especially unfair for the low-wage contractor employees who provide the critical work to keep federal buildings clean, operate cafeterias, and keep government property secure," she added.

But again, not a single Republican is willing to support the effort. Instead of focusing on the plight of unpaid janitors and cafeteria workers, Senate Republicans are trying to pass another tax break for the wealthy, this time for 1,700 of the richest families in the country.

Vox notes that federal agencies have the ability to provide back pay, but they are not required to do so. Legislation from these Democratic lawmakers would change that, and seek to make whole those who lost wages because of Trump's tantrums.

As Democrats fight for all workers across the country, Republicans sit idly by, showing the entire nation exactly where their values lie.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.