The Shutdown Is Over, but People Who Keep Us Healthy and Safe Got Hit the Hardest

Photo: Getty Images/Maskot
Many federal employees happily returned to work this week, but millions of Americans are still feeling the effects of the government shutdown, which stretched for 35 days to make it the longest in history. While all 800,000 or so career public servants are set to receive back pay, contract employees who service government institutions aren't breathing sighs of relief. Fair treatment is far out of reach for more than one million of the people who work to keep us safe, healthy, and fed, The Washington Post reports.

The majority of these contractors who find themselves ineligible for back pay are among the government's lowest-paid workers, earning between $450 and $650 a week. They're the cooks, janitors, and security guards, among others, who perform labor-intensive jobs that create the backbone of government offices, and museums, and agencies. And with another potential shutdown looming in mid-February, many of them will contend with a dent in their savings and little hope beyond their next paycheck.

“I did have a little money in the bank—now that’s all gone,” a Smithsonian employee tells The Washington Post. “I don’t have any help. My electricity might be turned off any day." It's clear that the effects of the government shutdown are far from over as her words echo sentiments of countless others shut out across the United States.

Last month, three Democratic senators proposed legislation that would ensure pay for contract workers up to $965 per week of lost income and reinstate the sick days many used during the shutdown. As our civil servants consider the bill, it doesn't hurt to call your senators to share your thoughts. While the shutdown has come to a halt, its repercussions are far from resolved.

Here's how the government shutdown affected everything from Joshua Tree to your food supply

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