(Bureau of Prisons photo)

Bureau of Prisons Employees Lead Lawsuit Over All Essential Workers Being Denied Shutdown Pay

Essential federal workers led by a pair of Bureau of Prisons employees and their union sued the government for being forced to work without pay during the shutdown.

The government has been closed for 10 days now as congressional leaders and the White House have failed to reach a deal on border-wall funding.

“The Democrats will probably submit a Bill, being cute as always, which gives everything away but gives NOTHING to Border Security, namely the Wall. You see, without the Wall there can be no Border Security – the Tech ‘stuff’ is just, by comparison, meaningless bells & whistles,” President Trump tweeted this evening. “Remember this. Throughout the ages some things NEVER get better and NEVER change. You have Walls and you have Wheels. It was ALWAYS that way and it will ALWAYS be that way! Please explain to the Democrats that there can NEVER be a replacement for a good old fashioned WALL!”

Democrats announced legislation to be introduced this week that would reopen the government. “The first bill would reopen all government agencies except for the Department of Homeland Security – not taking a position on the president’s wall. It would simply continue the funding levels and language that both parties have already supported,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a joint statement. “The second bill would extend the Department of Homeland Security’s funding through Feb. 8, which Republicans already supported in recent weeks.”

The American Federation of Government Employees said today that its lawsuit, alleging that the government is violating the law by forcing essential workers to labor without pay, was brought on behalf of all employees required to stay on the job through the shutdown; the two named plaintiffs, Justin Tarovisky and Grayson Sharp, are Bureau of Prisons employees at Hazelton and Canaan.

“Our members put their lives on the line to keep our country safe; requiring them to work without pay is nothing short of inhumane,” said J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees. “Positions that are considered ‘essential’ during a government shutdown are some of the most dangerous jobs in the federal government. They are frontline public safety positions, including many in law enforcement, among other critical roles. A substantial number of those working without pay are military veterans.”

“Our nation’s heroes, AFGE members and their families deserve the decency of knowing when their next paycheck is coming and that they will be paid for their work,” Cox added. “Our intent is to force the government and the administration to make all federal employees whole.”

“Plaintiffs seek liquidated damages under the FLSA for themselves and all other FLSA non-exempt Excepted Employees in the amount of any overtime payments to which they were entitled on the Scheduled Payday,” the lawsuit states.

Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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