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Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Doing What It takes to Avoid Shutdowns
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Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Doing What It takes to Avoid Shutdowns

(With reference to the article “Some Worker Hurt by Shutdown Weren’t Paid”)

I have been a federal contractor for twenty-two years. I am yet a federal contractor.

In that time, I have worked with/known many, many contractors and those that work at corporate headquarters who contract and manage the contracts that hire-and-fire those of us who do contract work.

That said — every person who works at the behest of a contact knows the score — or should know. That score is this: As a contractor you: 1) receive the benefits your company offers, 2) you receive pay only for the work you do, i.e. the hours you’re at work. For contractors it has always been so and is yet so as we experienced with the latest failure of our federal elected representatives to fund those agencies, departments and bureaus that engage us contractors. Contractors know this.

All of us contractors decided of our own free will to accept contact-based employment. Most-to-all of us contractors are “At Will” employees of the companies we choose to join. Employment at will means, 1) a contractor can be let go without any warning or explanation. It also means, 2) a contractor can quit at any time without offering an explanation. Contractors know this. Both these things not only can happen — both do happen. ...

The government has allowed/caused shut downs over the last many years.

About we contractors receiving money for no work. The Fed pays the companies we work for—the companies pay us. Where does the Fed get its money?...from taxes. Where do taxes come from—from the paychecks of a shoes sales person in Aberdeen, SD…from a construction worker in Chapman, Kan…from a first grade teacher in Lorton, Va… from a corporate executive in San Francisco, Calif…from a busboy’s pay check working in the restaurant you last dined in … from your neighbor … from the high school or college grad that landed their first full time job.

While the government allowed/created conditions that prevented we contractor from getting our $25-to-$50+ an hour, the aforementioned were working … and it is we should ask those that were at work, while we weren’t, to hand over some of their pay because some folks in the city of Washington, in the District of Columbia, couldn’t get-it-wired?

If those CEOs and the attending President really cared about those that do contract work for their institutions, they might have long ago applied their management skills to having that rainy-day-fund. I wonder…of those individual contractors that offered their statements of personal hardship — the second panel at the hearing — when they did offer the same statements to their companies—did their companies agree to pay them for time-not-worked? I don’t recall reading that any contractor in the article—nor any contractor I now work with—went to their company asking to be paid for the shut-down days… Why? Because we know our companies would not/will not pay us for days we don’t work—other than paid vacation and holidays.

A best way—I don’t claim to know and there’s seldom a “the best way”—to get paid as a “Federal Government paycheck dependent contractor” is for the Federal Government to commit to do whatever work needs to be done to avoid further shut downs. Let’s us — corporate, contractor, busboy, shoe sales person, and the rest — watch and see how, in the future, things go in DC.

Nick A.Sottler

Alexandria