Senator Murray Secures Critical Fix for Hanford and PNNL Workers in Senate Relief Package

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, successfully fought to include a provision in the Senate coronavirus package that directs the federal government to ensure that thousands of Hanford Nuclear Site and PNNL workers who cannot telework continue to receive pay.

“The federal government has a longstanding moral and legal obligation to Hanford clean-up, especially during a public health emergency that impacts the safety and livelihood of the workers we count on to finish the mission. It is imperative for Congress to ensure all of our Hanford and PNNL workers, including those who can’t telework, don’t miss a paycheck while clean-up work is stopped during this pandemic—and I’m proud my colleagues and I were able to secure a provision in the Senate stimulus bill to make sure subcontractors continue getting paid to help see themselves and their families through this crisis.”

Earlier this week the Hanford site announced a work stoppage requiring staff who are able to telework to do so—meaning thousands of Hanford workers who are unable to telework would be prevented from coming to work, and thus would not be paid. Contractors and subcontractors at PNNL would be in a similar situation. Previously, the Department of Energy did not have the authority to pay these workers for “idle” time, meaning they would go without pay during the current global health pandemic during which they are unable to go to work. Led by efforts from Senator Murray, the Senate coronavirus relief package provides the Department of Energy the authority to reimburse contractors and sub-contractors for trade and craft workers to ensure these workers maintain their pay through the pandemic.

A longtime champion for Hanford cleanup, including Hanford workers, last year Senator Murray helped secure more than $140,000 in sick leave back pay for some Hanford workers who had been previously denied their accurate benefits.