News

SLAC workers, others won't get back pay after furloughs

National laboratory employees at risk of temporary job loss due to federal shutdown

More than 13,400 Bay Area Department of Energy laboratory workers -- including 1,500 at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory -- could miss out on back pay if the federal shutdown continues.

The workers are contractors for the government, not full-time employees, and they're still working, despite the federal shutdown. But if deadlock in Congress continues, they may be furloughed without the ability to collect back pay, according to U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo.

Eshoo and a contingent of Bay Area representatives, including Reps. Eric Swalwell, Barbara Lee, and Zoe Lofgren are urging DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz to work with the White House to allow the national laboratories to provide the back pay once the federal government reopens.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, H.R. 3223, by a vote of 407-0. The bill compensates all federal employees who would not otherwise receive their full salaries due to the shutdown, but lab employees will not be compensated because they are not federal employees, Eshoo stated.

Swalwell represents Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore. If the government shutdown continues, 7,500 government contractors at these labs will be furloughed without pay beginning October 18. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is located in Lee's congressional district, and Lofgren has been a longtime supporter of national laboratories and fusion research conducted at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore.

"They are our nation's premier scientists and engineers who daily are engaged in cutting-edge research that is changing the world. To add insult to injury these employees are not entitled to back pay if they're furloughed because they are employees of an operator of a federal facility, not the federal government.

"I urge Secretary Moniz to authorize Department of Energy funds for furloughed national lab employees to ensure that our nation's brightest receive their pay, and that labs like SLAC can continue to recruit and retain the best minds in the world," Eshoo stated.

In the past, the Department of Energy has treated lab employees the same as their federal counterparts. When Secretary Steven Chu instituted a DOE-wide pay freeze, lab employees were included along with federal workers, the representatives noted.

"Lab employees have expressed their concerns about the uncertainty they face and the economic hardship which would be caused by furloughs. Their mortgage payments, car payments, and other monthly bills will continue even though they will not be receiving a paycheck. Putting lab employees through this economic difficulty is neither right nor necessary," the representatives stated in their letter.

Comments

Posted by nottheonlyoneangry, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:37 am

How nice that our @#$%!#@ Congress passed a law giving back pay to Government employees even while the Government is supposedly still "shut down". This done without a budget! How a**-backwards that is! And the employees will get paid even though they did no work? That 'pay for no work' comes out of your taxes! The private sector workers should be so lucky.
What is the result then? The government bureaucracy remains employed and paid (and loyal to Congress) while the public gets screwed.
Why were the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials (and others) closed? So the public could not 'walk through' them? How much money did that save as opposed to how many citizens were disenfranchised? Raft trips down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon were cancelled by the Park Service. Do you know how many actual Park Service employees are on the river while raft companies take people down the river? I saw one (1!) during my 2 week trip. The raft companies staff are not Park Service employees; they are responsible for and skilled at the safety of the river, the environment, and the people. Yet they were shut down. People sign up for such trips 18-24 months in advance - then POOF, "I'm sorry, you cannot go." The vacation of a lifetime destroyed.
I am angry at the jackasses we have in Congress, but I am disgusted with the actions of the Superintendent of the National Park Service.
The ultimate losers - citizens.


Posted by Richard, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:47 am

As a furloughed federal worker, I am astonished that Congress would vote to give back pay to anyone. We are constantly barraged with messages about stopping waste, fraud and abuse. How does locking people out of their jobs and then paying them later for not working fit with that? I will turn down any back pay and take leave without pay for the time I am on furlough, and I urge others to do the same.


Posted by Shutdown Sally, a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2013 at 12:23 pm

"How does locking people out of their jobs and then paying them later for not working fit with that?"

What morons locked our employees out? We need our food inspectors doing their job. We need the NIH working on curing disease. We need to continue the economic recovery from the 2007-08 Great Recession.

Which part of Congress thought it was a good idea to shutdown?

That's the 'idiot class', right there! Of course shutting down the government is more costly to us than keeping it going!

And Americans know it! From the Wall St Journal:

"For more than a week, President Barack Obama and many Republicans in Congress have engaged in a fierce debate: Would failure to raise the federal debt limit pose a big problem for the U.S. or not? A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds a large majority of Americans emphatically believe it would.

In all, 63% of Americans in the poll say that failure to raise the debt ceiling would pose "a real and serious problem," while just 15% said it wouldn't be a serious problem."

63 - 15. That's even worse than the leader of the republican party - Mitt Romney's landslide loss.


Posted by Aethelred the Unready, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 11, 2013 at 1:40 pm

If I were not paid to work, I would not work and simply take an unpaid leave until pay resumed. However, my nephew, an army medic, is stuck in Afghanistan. Exhausted of the government shutdown. He was scheduled to be sent home October 1, he was packed and ready to go, but is stuck in Helmand Province. Not only that, he is being forced to work (slavery?) without pay until they can ship him home at some indeterminate time! This is unconscionable!


Posted by John Galt, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 11, 2013 at 5:42 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Slac-worker, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2013 at 12:22 am

The management team at SLAC has not communicated anything about a possible date the furloughs will start. It would be nice to get some advance notice on the dates so that people can prepare for it. Worthless management


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