Cantwell Secures Win for Shipyard Workers in Senate-Passed NDAA

Fix would ensure Puget Sound Naval Shipyard workers receive proper reimbursement for long-term temporary duty assignments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Provisions pushed by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to repeal restrictive per diem regulations on shipyard workers traveling for temporary duty assignments passed the Senate yesterday as part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The change would impact roughly 800 workers at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard who travel to Guam and Japan every year to help with work.

“Workers at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard make sure our naval fleets are ready to answer every call,” Senator Cantwell said. “They should not face financial burdens when they are sent to work on national security projects around the globe. I am glad my Senate colleagues agree on the need to fix this issue, and I will continue to make sure our shipyard workers receive the compensation they have earned.”

In 2014, the Department of Defense instituted a regulation that cut food and lodging per diems by 25 percent for work travel longer than 30 days, with a 45 percent cut for trips longer than 180 days. These cuts have affected Puget Sound Naval Shipyard workers who travel for up to eight months every year for temporary duty assignments, forcing them to pay out of pocket for work-related food and housing costs.

Ensuring overtime pay and full reimbursement for shipyard workers traveling abroad has long been a priority for Senator Cantwell. In 2016, she wrote a letter to the leadership of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees urging them to pass legislation to fix compensation policies. And in April of 2017, she introduced legislation with a bipartisan group of senators to restore full per diem funding for this work-based travel.

The Senate version of the NDAA now moves on to a joint conference committee with the House of Representatives. Senator Cantwell will work to ensure the per diem fix, as well as a provision to ensure Puget Sound Naval Shipyard workers can earn overtime pay for their work performed overseas, are included in the final version of the legislation.