Stop Wage Theft at the National Guard
I served in the National Guard for 32 years, and now I work as a caseworker to help military members, veterans and their families with resources to help handle life’s difficult decisions
But recently, the National Guard ended its contract with the company that employed caseworkers all across America, throwing us out of work for a month. The veterans and families who relied on us were left helpless.
That's why I'm calling on Sen. Lindsey Graham, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and former member of the South Carolina Air National Guard, to use the National Defense Authorization Act to ensure that the National Guard caseworkers who provide daily assistance to our service members are paid the living wage they deserve.
Workers like me, known as Family Assistance Center Specialists (FACS), are on the frontlines of the fight against veteran suicide. Every FACS worker has harrowing stories to tell: of veterans who call in crisis because they’re struggling with self-harm or substance abuse and even counselling soldiers and veterans who are considering ending their lives.
I love the Guard and I love helping people, and with around 40,000 homeless veterans in the United States – I want to do anything I can to prevent even one more veteran from slipping through the cracks. Our mission is simple: Serve those who serve our country. Many FACS workers like myself are veterans, continuing our service to our country by helping the next generation of military members.
When the new contractor took over the contract, they slashed the workers’ wages – under the old contract, I was making $26.69 an hour. Under the new contract, I would be making $14.02.
This is wage theft. The McNamara O'Hara Service Contract Act determines the wage rates that workers at should be paid while performing work under a federal contract. Some companies with federal contracts purposefully classify their employees at a lower paid wage rate, essentially stealing their wages in order to maximize the company's profits.
Some FACS workers returned to work at lower pay rates, but had to take second or third jobs to make ends meet. Others quit altogether. We provide vital services to our troops, but a contractor that cares more about pinching pennies than honoring those who serve is devaluing our work.