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Mayor Bowser’s Statement on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Devastating Decision for Federal Workers and Their Families

Thursday, January 17, 2019
U.S. Department of Labor Refuses to Relax Restrictions that Block States from Providing Some Federal Workers with Financial Assistance

(Washington, DC) – On Monday, January 14, Mayor Bowser sent a letter to United States Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta urging the U.S. Department of Labor to work with the DC Government to make more federal workers eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. Currently, federal workers who are deemed excepted or essential must remain on the job on a full-time basis without pay and without the ability to claim unemployment insurance benefits. The Department of Labor has denied the Mayor’s request and reaffirmed their position that these excepted and essential employees will remain ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits.

“Federal workers and their families continue to pay the highest price for this unnecessary and unprecedented shutdown. It is unconscionable for the Trump Administration to acknowledge that these individuals are working without pay and with no end in sight, but will not make the smallest effort to help them by allowing states to offer unemployment insurance benefits,” said Mayor Bowser. “DC wants to do more and we are willing to step up. These employees continue to work, they’re taking on the cost of commuting to work, yet, they’re not getting paid nor are they receiving any financial assistance. It is an outrage to think that any hard-working, dedicated public servant in this country would ever have to make a decision between paying their mortgage and buying groceries. The federal government must rethink this decision and allow us to offer federal employees the same support they are offering our nation.”

This decision comes from the Trump Administration after federal workers have already missed their first paycheck of the shutdown and are being forced to make important decisions about upcoming mortgage and rent payments, holiday bills, and day-to-day expenses. Due to the partial federal government shutdown, roughly 800,000 federal workers have either been without work or must continue to work without pay. In the District alone, 7,548 individual federal workers and contractors have applied for unemployment benefits, and the DC Government has stepped up to process thousands of unemployment claims for furloughed workers.