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Furloughed Workers’ Back Pay In Doubt

Thu., Dec. 21, 1995

As Shutdown II drags on, some taxpayers are asking: Why should federal workers be paid for not working?

They were paid the last time around. President Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., say they should be paid again.

Earlier this week, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., said he wasn’t ready to decide whether furloughed workers should receive retroactive pay this time. But on Wednesday, he told a meeting of House Republicans that the workers would not lose their salaries.

It costs an estimated $40 million a day in lost productivity when 260,000 workers across the country sit idle at home, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget. “That is the value we place on the work normally done,” an OMB spokeswoman said.

“It is not a proper principle to pay people for work not done,” Rep. Ernest J. Istook Jr., R-Okla., wrote in a letter to Gingrich.

Furloughed workers disagree.

“Clearly, federal workers should not be caught in the political cross-fire between the Congress and the president,” said John Sturdivant, president of the American Federation of Government Employees.

“If the two sides are not able to come to agreement in time, federal employees and their families should not be made to suffer. After all, senators, representatives and the president will continue to be paid during any shutdowns.”


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