The President must immediately reopen the government, so workers can get back on the job earning a paycheck and serving Ohioans.
Right now, 6,569 Ohio workers — including 1,590 at NASA Glenn alone — are either furloughed or working without pay. Either way, they’re missing paychecks because of President Trump’s shutdown.
And those numbers don’t even include federal contract workers. Contractors include everyone from aerospace engineers to custodians, security guards, and cafeteria workers.
The people who serve the food and clean the floors in federal buildings are usually paid too little as it is – and now unless Congress acts, those workers won’t receive any back pay at all, because they’re employed by those private contracting companies, not the government.
They are out of a job until further notice from the president.
Last week, I talked with TSA agents in Cleveland who are working without pay, and with cafeteria workers in Virginia who work for private food service contractors that staff the restaurants at the Smithsonian museums.
These workers are paid by the hour, and as of right now, they won’t be able to make up any of the wages they’re losing out on.
One of those cafeteria workers last week told me:
“I have to pay rent, I have other bills, I have a college student in his second semester and he needs help with his books.”
I’m working with my colleague Senator Tina Smith on legislation to try to get these workers back pay, and of course I supported our Senate measure to make sure direct federal employees get the back pay they’ve earned.
I also sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget demanding the administration work with contracting companies to compensate these workers for the wages they’ve lost.
Missing one paycheck may not seem like a lot to some folks in Washington, but for most Ohioans, missing a paycheck is a big deal.
Working people can’t just send a letter to creditors, saying please excuse me from paying rent or paying my mortgage or paying for my medication this month. And you can’t buy groceries or put gas in the car with an I-owe-you.
I’m calling on the president to think about these workers. Think about the TSA agents in Cleveland. Think about the workers at NASA Glenn.
Reopen the government.
The Senate voted unanimously in December to fund the government and avert a shutdown. So we’re waiting on the president to lead, and let these workers get back to work serving the public and earning a paycheck.
Sherrod Brown represents Ohio in the Senate and is a guest column.