Shutdown taking a toll on both government contractors & federal workers

The Capitol is seen on Election Day in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. S (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Day six of the partial government shutdown brought increasing stress for both government contractors and federal workers who’ve been furloughed or forced to work without pay.

“We all need to get paid. We all have families, we’re all middle class workers and taxpayers,” Rudy D’Alessandro. “You’re worried, do I have enough money to make the next payments on our cars, our mortgages, and medical bills.”

For the last 26 years, D’Alessandro has worked for the Department of Interior as an NPS International Cooperation Specialist. He’s also the president of The National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 269.

“You know, we had two other shutdowns earlier this year,” he said. “So we’re all wondering when is this going to end and what do I have to do to survive it economically.”

Congress historically has provided back pay for federal employees once a shutdown is over. In fact, the Senate has already approved legislation that would guarantee impacted employees are paid retroactively.

But for federal government contractors that have received stop work orders as a result of the shutdown, back pack is rarely an option.

The Professional Services Council, which is a trade group that represents 400 companies that are all federal contractors, said the shutdown is already taking a toll on those contractors.

Federal contractors do all sorts of work for the government, from engineering to consulting to operations and maintenance.

“We do worry about the people who work for us and work with us who are contractors. In all shutdowns, they’re not paid. They don’t get back pay when we get back to work. They’re out money for however long it takes,” said D’Alessandro. “So they’re left high and dry.”

As for when those federal employees and contractors will likely see their last paycheck, the American Federation of Government Employees says that different agencies operate on slightly different pay schedules.

AFGE is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 federal workers in D.C. and across the country.

AFGE estimates that most people furloughed or working without pay will receive their last paycheck between December 28 and January 3. That’s the last paycheck not impacted by the shutdown.

“We’d like to just get back to work and serve the nation,” said D’Alessandro. “That’s what we do. We’re public servants. Please put us back to work.”

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