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Pressley requests back pay for federal contract workers

Ayanna Pressley called for an immediate solution to the partial shutdown.
Ayanna Pressley called for an immediate solution to the partial shutdown.(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/File 2018)

US Representative Ayanna Pressley called on congressional leaders of both parties Sunday to provide back pay for thousands of furloughed federal contract workers who have gone without a paycheck since the start of a partial government shutdown last month.

In a letter sent Sunday to House and Senate leadership, the Boston Democrat called for an immediate solution to the partial shutdown, which has caused more than 850,000 workers to be furloughed or be required to work without pay.

Pressley said that any funding deal should include retroactive pay for an estimated additional 2,000 contract workers who have been furloughed from their jobs “with no prospects of back pay” during the shutdown.

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Those affected include janitors and security and food service workers, she said.

“Many of these employees work diligently day in and day out, oftentimes on an hourly basis and at low wages, to keep our government buildings across the country safe and clean,” Pressley wrote.

“Regardless of the critical nature of their work, these men and women are forced to live paycheck to paycheck and have been disproportionately impacted by this reckless shutdown.”

The partial shutdown began Dec. 22 after President Trump and congressional Democrats were not able to reach an agreement to fund the government that included money for a border wall between the United States and Mexico.

Trump has repeatedly promised that a wall would be built, but on Sunday he acknowledged that negotiations led by Vice President Mike Pence would not break the impasse. The shutdown is “going to go on for a long time” if there is no deal that includes money for the wall, Trump said.

Pressley wrote that contract workers have put their lives on hold “as a result of President Trump’s obsession to fund a xenophobic hate wall.”

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Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.