A bungled contract is still devastating National Guard employees
"Hire and train, hire and train. It's been like that for the last three or four months," says Kevin McDonnell, a Rhode Island-based supervisor whose own pay was cut in half.
This isn't the first time a lowball bid led to draconian wage cuts and mass resignations on a military family support contract. It's at least the fifth case in as many years, according to Good Jobs Nation, a worker advocacy group that filed Labor Department complaints on behalf of employees on two such contracts.
After I wrote about this problem in April, lawmakers grilled the National Guard about whether military families were getting the support they deserved. The Guard told Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) that it was undertaking a contract "review."
And then ... nothing.
On Tuesday, I called the Guard to ask what happened. Lo and behold, that very day, it decided to "modify" the contract!
Cognitive sent a cryptic email to workers Wednesday saying "changes" to job descriptions and salaries were forthcoming. No further details. No mention of any back pay for the past eight months.
A Guard spokesman told me that a different office will handle the next bid process, which begins next month. The Labor Department will be asked to come up with minimum wage rates for these occupations, as should have happened last year.
Which sounds like an improvement. But for military families left stranded in recent months and workers such as Ourada who were shortchanged and have already moved on, it's cold comfort.
Catherine Rampell's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter, @crampell.
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