Brown Letter to TSA Demands Overdue Back Pay for Workers Hurt by Trump’s Shutdown

Senator Also Introduced Legislation to Secure Back Pay for Federal Contractors Who Went Without Pay During Shutdown

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Ben Cardin (D-MD) in a letter to Administrator David Pekoske to express concern about reports that over 1,000 TSA employees nationwide have still not received the entirety of back pay they are owed from the 35-day government shutdown. 

“Thousands of TSA employees reported for work during the holiday season and into January knowing they would not receive pay for their labor in a timely manner. During that time, we heard many reports of dedicated TSA employees who already live paycheck to paycheck being unable to cover personal expenses like rent or mortgage payments, car payments, and grocery bills.  Communities throughout the country came together to set up food banks to help ensure unpaid TSA workers could keep their families fed during the government shutdown,” the Senators wrote.

“Your first responsibility must be to identify all TSA employees who are owed back pay and to ensure they are all made whole by the next scheduled pay day – the third since the end of the shutdown – on March 8, 2019. If this is not practicable, please advise us on what date every TSA employee will be fully compensated. TSA needs to take responsibility for paying all employees correctly. It will be important to identify and fix the administrative process that led to over 1,000 hardworking employees not receiving their full earned pay,” the Senators continued. 

Earlier this month, CNN reported that more than 1,000 TSA employees are still waiting to be paid due to the TSA’s decision to pay a partial paycheck to workers in order to help keep them on the job. According to data published in 2017 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median TSA salary is less than $41,000. 

Brown has led efforts to secure back pay for workers hurt by Trump’s government shutdown. 

During the shutdown, Brown met with TSA and food service workers who were being hurt by the President’s temper tantrum, and shared the stories of hardworking Americans who suffered as a result of the shutdown.   

In January, Brown introduced legislation to secure back pay for the federal contractor employees who did not receive pay during the government shutdown. Brown joined Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) in introducing the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act, which aims to help low-wage federal contractor employees—including janitorial, food, and security services workers—who were furloughed or forced to accept reduced work hours as a result of the government shutdown.

Brown also wrote to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), urging the Administration to direct federal agencies to work with contractors to provide back pay to compensate low- and middle-income contractor employees for the wages they have lost during the shutdown 

Many of these federal contractors make too little to begin with and are paid hourly. Because they are unable to clock hours, these workers often do not receive back pay and are typically unable to recoup lost hours and wages during a shutdown. 

The full text of today’s letter can be found here and below: 

Dear Administrator Pekoske,

We write to express our deep concern about reports that 1,000 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees nationwide have still not received the entirety of back-pay they are owed from the 35-day government shutdown. This is unacceptable and must be fixed immediately. 

Thousands of TSA employees reported for work during the holiday season and into January knowing they would not receive pay for their labor in a timely manner. During that time, we heard many reports of dedicated TSA employees who already live paycheck to paycheck being unable to cover personal expenses like rent or mortgage payments, car payments, and grocery bills.  Communities throughout the country came together to set up food banks to help ensure unpaid TSA workers could keep their families fed during the government shutdown. 

Throughout the duration of the shutdown, these front line national security employees worked to ensure our airports were safe for passenger travel and commerce. And yet, according to a CNN report published March 1, 2019, approximately 1,000 of 60,000 TSA employees, still require some sort of pay correction. CNN quoted an unnamed TSA official as saying, “The administrator used Fiscal Year 2018 money to partially pay TSA employees. This cheated the purpose of the shutdown. They were scrambling to keep people on the job because you had a number of sick outs taking place, but in fact, they created more problems for employees. And they’re dealing with it one month after the shutdown is over.”  

Your first responsibility must be to identify all TSA employees who are owed back pay and to ensure they are all made whole by the next scheduled pay day – the third since the end of the shutdown – on March 8, 2019. If this is not practicable, please advise us on what date every TSA employee will be fully compensated. TSA needs to take responsibility for paying all employees correctly. It will be important to identify and fix the administrative process that led to over 1,000 hardworking employees not receiving their full earned pay. 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this very important matter. We look forward to hearing from you as to when all TSA employees will be fully compensated.

 

Sincerely,

  

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