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Government employees left in the dark on shutdown procedure

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, March 17, 2011 13:20 EDT
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With a budget showdown in Congress and only a short time left before the latest deadline expires, federal government employees have begun to get anxious about what their managers aren’t telling them.

Specifically, public sector employees want to know whether they need to start looking for extra work. And they’re getting increasingly unhappy that no one in the Administration is telling them.

Had Republicans not agreed earlier this week to pass a three-week budget extension, thousands of government employees would have been facing furloughs starting Friday. This week’s extension, the sixth since last year, is only a stopgap measure.

Many still believe a government shutdown is imminent.

If that does come to pass, many public sector union workers will be put out of a job at least temporarily. Some employees might be furloughed for days out of the week. Others could be sent home for longer.

It could also affect the pay rates of employees whose roles are deemed essential to minimal operations. The end result on middle-class families will be painful all around.

Federal law requires government managers to come up with plans for scenarios like this one, but so far none have been presented to employees or their unions, according to a recent report in Government Executive.

And while a government working group has been set up to figure out who will stay, who will go and what to modify in the mean-time, they’re not taking input from outside of management, and they’re not giving workers any clue as to what may happen next.

This has led a number of government union reps to wonder why the Obama administration would keep working families in the dark for months on whether they’d be getting paychecks. Republicans have been threatening a government shutdown since November.

A spokesman with the government’s Office on Management and Budget told the publication that should a government shutdown become inevitable, plans will be clearly communicated.

The next budget deadline is on April 8. If a new budget or temporary extension is not passed, the federal government will shut down temporarily. It would be the first government shutdown since 1995.

Image credit: USDA.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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