NTEU Endorses Bipartisan Bill to Protect Employee Pay During Shutdown

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December 21, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Americans deserve far better than a year-end government shutdown that would deprive taxpayers of important government services and cause unnecessary anxiety among federal employees whose paychecks and year-end family plans would be disrupted, National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon said Thursday.

The current temporary spending agreement expires at midnight Friday. NTEU is hopeful that last-minute negotiations will yield another short-term deal to fund the government through January.

“But let this be yet another lesson for Congress and the administration, that failing to meet their basic obligation of keeping the government running is causing real damage to agencies’ ability to serve taxpayers efficiently and effectively,” Reardon said. “The government needs a stable, steady year-long budget that provides agencies with adequate resources to carry out their missions of securing the nation, safeguarding the economy and providing for the public health.

A government shutdown threat on the eve of a holiday weekend is an affront to taxpayers that would rightfully provoke a national outrage. But NTEU is also raising the alarm about the damage it would do to the men and women of the civil service. Many would be put on unpaid furloughs. Others would be forced to work without pay, even if they had previously scheduled leave.

“One way for Congress to minimize the damage is to pass bipartisan legislation that would ensure government workers eventually get paid in the event of a shutdown,” Reardon said.

NTEU is endorsing new legislation introduced Wednesday night by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.). The Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act would require that federal workers who are furloughed or forced to work without pay during the shutdown are compensated fully and quickly when the government re-opens, regardless of the next regularly scheduled pay date.

During the shutdown in 2013 when federal employees went two weeks without pay, NTEU surveyed its membership and found 84 percent had cut back on necessities and 72 percent went further into debt. At the peak of the shutdown, 850,000 federal employees were forced into unpaid work furloughs.

NTEU supports similar legislation from Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) that would also allow those who are required to work during a shutdown to take scheduled annual leave and sick leave while the government remains closed.

“Federal employees should not be punished for someone else’s failures. Interrupting the paychecks and annual leave of federal employees is an insult to the nation’s civil service,” Reardon said. “They are middle class workers who have bills to pay, just like everyone else, and we urge Congress to approve this legislation as soon as possible.”

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