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Demand Letter to TSA Seeks Overdue Back Pay

March 15, 2019, 10:57 AM HST · Updated March 15, 10:57 AM
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US Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaiʻi joined colleagues in drafting a letter to the Transportation Security Administration, demanding overdue back pay for federal employees.

Senators Hirono joined Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) in writing the letter to Administrator David Pekoske.  The letter expresses 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.

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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.

In February, Senator Hirono wrote to the executives of the three national credit bureaus to request information about what steps have been taken to protect the creditworthiness of federal employees and contractors impacted by the government shutdown. During the shutdown, many workers who were not eligible for unemployment insurance exhausted their savings.  According to Sen. Hirono, some were on the brink of missing their next mortgage payment and other expenses that could negatively impact their creditworthiness, even as they receive back pay for their work.

Senator Hirono also took a number of legislative actions that would assist federal contract employees that were hurt during the shutdown. She joined Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and 21 of their colleagues in introducing legislation to secure back pay for the federal contractor employees impacted by the government shutdown. Senator Hirono was also an original co-sponsor of the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act, which was signed into law on January 16, 2019, to ensure all federal workers who were furloughed or required to work during the government shutdown will receive back pay.

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