As of this afternoon, there is no clear path forward with Congress and the administration to end the government shutdown. While those efforts continue, federal employees are suffering through uncertainty and confusion.
Many more federal employees have been labeled excepted workers in this shutdown than in the 16-day 2013 shutdown. At the IRS, some 35,000 employees are determined excepted, with the vast majority of those working in Wage and Investment. The IRS has the discretion to determine which employees remain on the job and which receive furlough notices, subject to the broad parameters determined by the Office of Management and Budget and agency heads in accordance with the Anti-Deficiency Act.
For many NTEU members, that means you were furloughed in 2013 but told to report to work in 2018.
The same is true at several other NTEU-represented agencies where management has determined that it has some remaining funding to continue full agency operations for varying periods of time. Among those are the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.
As with any lapse in funding, the agencies that are funded primarily outside of the appropriations process (through user fees) continue to fully operate. Most employees of agencies such as Customs and Border Protection whose jobs are deemed necessary to protect national security or public health are designated as excepted and continue to work.
Adding to the confusion was the late notice for many employees immediately before the weekend. Large groups of employees are being told to report to their offices on Monday to conduct ‘orderly shutdown’ tasks.
NTEU is keeping a close eye on how top agency leadership is managing this process and tracking the problems and issues employees are experiencing. The union will bring these issues directly to management.
With the length of the shutdown undetermined, NTEU members have questions regarding their pay. We have heard from many asking if they will receive their next check since, for some, the pay period ended on Friday. OPM has told the union that it is working on that question, and we should have additional information to share tomorrow afternoon.
On Capitol Hill, NTEU is keeping sharp pressure on lawmakers to make sure that NO federal worker is financially harmed because of the shutdown. Those on furlough do not deserve to lose their pay when the shutdown is not their fault. Those employees who are working deserve to be paid promptly after funding is restored and not be forced to wait weeks for their paychecks.