Federal Employees Should Not Have to Wait for Back Pay

Press Release January 22, 2019

Washington D.C. – The political failure to re-open the federal government has become untenable for federal employees who cannot wait any longer for the paychecks they are owed, NTEU National President Tony Reardon said today.

Since last week, Reardon has escalated his demands that Congress and the administration find a way to pay federal employees immediately, regardless of the shutdown. The personal and financial well-being of thousands of frontline federal workers should no longer be linked to broader political negotiations that so far have kept them locked out of their jobs or working without pay.

“Federal employees are about to miss their second paycheck and they are growing increasingly desperate. The suffering of thousands of middle-class working families has to end, and it has to end now,” Reardon said.

The Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019 was signed by the President on Jan. 16, guaranteeing that all federal employees -- furloughed and those required to work during the shutdown -- get their back pay immediately when the shutdown ends.

“Everyone agrees that federal employees deserve to be paid and will be paid. Why not now?” Reardon said.

The partial government shutdown is now more than one month old and unpaid federal employees are facing February’s bills with depleted bank accounts and no hope for when they’ll be paid next. They are skipping prescription refills, cutting back on groceries, pawning personal treasures and stressing over next semester’s tuition.

“We’ve said all along that it is grossly unfair that federal employees are the pawns in someone else’s fight, and now the situation is dire,” Reardon said. “Take our nation’s civil servants out of the crossfire and pay them, period.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) has embraced the idea, and NTEU is encouraging other members of Congress to hear the heartbreaking stories of their constituents, acknowledge the spreading economic turmoil, and join the cause.

“I applaud the thousands of federal employees around the country who have shared their stories of personal hardship so publicly,” Reardon said. “Their bravery is inspiring, and now it is time for elected officials to respond with a solution that delivers their paychecks right away.”

NTEU-represented agencies affected by the lapse in appropriations include: IRS, Customs and Border Protection, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Communications Commission, Food and Drug Administration, Federal Election Commission, National Park Service, Patent and Trademark Office, Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.