Tag: Government shutdown

The No-Pay Payday

payThis is a strange day for me.  It is usually the day I get a paycheck from my Government employer but with the current “partial” (it’s not-so-partial when it directly affects you) shutdown, nothing will be deposited into my bank account.  So, I have been scrambling.  When I left work for the Christmas holidays, I had absolutely no idea that this was going to happen.  We always assume (yeah I know what it means to assume) that cooler heads would prevail and everything would get worked out.  Today I turn on the news and they still say “no end in sight” and that after this weekend, this will be the longest government shutdown in history.

To add insult to injury, my supervisor called and asked me to report to work on Monday to support some of my “essential” co-workers who have been working during the shutdown.

Right now my bills need to be paid.  I’m not okay with this.  I am not on strike and I am not voluntarily sacrificing for funding for this wall.  I just want to work and pay my bills.  The suggestion that we should “barter” with our landlord is yet another example of how politicians are out of touch with reality.  Even if I could barter with my landlord (which I don’t have one) how am I supposed to pay my other bills.  Not many of them are understanding.  Sure, they might defer payment or give you an extension but many times this is still reflected on your credit score.  Getting a loan?  Yeah, try that one when you apply and you AREN’T GETTING A PAYCHECK.  Duh.  Is anyone home?  With the end of the shutdown nowhere in sight, how are you going to make the first payment on the loan if you get one in the first place?

I don’t like being in this position.

Get another job?  That would work if I wasn’t being called back into work and how long am I supposed to work another job?  What other employer is going to agree to hire you when you return to your normal job when the government re-opens?

Someone said to contact my congressman.  I did.  Three days ago.  No response.  None.  Zip.   He’s still getting a paycheck.

I have read people’s comments who say they are willing to make the sacrifice for the funding to build the wall.  I am not.  I did not asked to be held hostage in this negotiation.  It is ridiculous to suggest that I should.  As I have told others, I work for the American people, not a political party.  In fact, we aren’t even allowed to identify with any political party or do our jobs with any political favoritism.

I see reports that government workers are protesting and picketing the White House.  Yeah, that will show them.  Ineffective.  I read where lawsuits are being filed for making us work while not being paid during the shutdown.  Yeah, let’s see how successful that will be.  Point is….no one cares.  Our employer certainly doesn’t care.  If this were a private company and the owner refused to pay their employees until he got what he wanted, people would be livid about it.  The only people livid today are my fellow 800,000 workers missing a paycheck today.

I’m not asking for sympathy.  I know most people don’t really give a damn.  I’m just pretty mad about this – especially today.

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Sidelined Litigation Support Specialist

 

sidelinedI am currently sidelined by my employer during the Government shutdown.  I have been deemed to be “non-excepted” which means they think I am not essential during the shutdown.  I really don’t know how to take that.  Although my co-workers who were tagged as being essential are still working without pay, I am not comfortable with being put on the sideline until the politicians can decide on funding the wall.  I don’t like this situation one bit.

So I am doing odd jobs and chores around the house to keep busy until I get back in.

I have to reflect on this because I do become essential when an attorney needs a video clip or help with playing a file.  Don’t tell me that I am “non-excepted” because I can assure you that I certainly become essential when they need something or help with an eDiscovery issue.  I don’t know how they are managing those issues right now.  Unfortunately, I am prohibited from helping.   I suppose they are getting it done without me.

On the other hand, this may be a good thing.  Maybe they will see exactly what I contribute to the mission on a daily basis.  No, I’m not saying I am the most important person there but I am a team player and I do my part and I’m damn good at it.  I have always taken pride in doing it and I want to be back doing it again.  I’m completely frustrated that I am being forced to sit out because of some political tug-of-war.

Right now instead of managing data, complex databases issues or assisting the legal support staff with discovery or trial issues, I am trying to figure out how I am going to pay my bills and what I need to do to manage my budget while my paycheck is on hold.  I would rather be dealing with a discovery issue than my household budget.  I am confronting another stress that I hadn’t seen coming.  I had projects that I had planned to work on now but I’m on the sideline.

Since 1996, I have been involved in litigation support duties for my employer.  I have sat in the “hot seat” of hundreds of trials over the years.  I have been the ringmaster of technology in the courtroom while assisting the legal team in presenting documents, photos, audio and video in the courtroom.  The technology has changed so much over the time I have been doing this.  While I first started, we had VHS tapes for video and audio cassette tapes for audio recordings.  Today, the audio and video comes through in a variety of formats and software programs.  Instead of easier, in many ways it has become more complex.  If you ask any of the attorneys I have assisted in those trials, they would all tell you that I was very much essential.  I wouldn’t be on the sideline like I am right now.

I have been through other shutdowns, furloughs and delayed paychecks.  The last time I was also sent home but then when the workload was too much, I suddenly became essential and was asked to go in to handle it.

While the news only reports that the Government shutdown is causing trash to be out of control in the national parks, they ignore the hundreds of thousands or government workers who are forced to the sideline because they are not considered to be essential.  Not much is said about that.  Many of us would rather be back to work AND getting paid for it.   Since I am not the employee who is not able to pick up the trash at a national park, most people won’t know or care that I am not able to do my job.  It doesn’t matter to me what other people think.  I know and that’s all that matters to me.

I don’t know how long I will be on the furlough bench.  It doesn’t look too promising that I will be back in the game anytime soon.  I can assure you that I will be ready when the call comes and whether or not my employer considers me essential or not I will get the job done as I always have throughout my career.

 

 

What It Means To Be Furloughed

nonessentialI’m not happy right now. I just got the notice that I have been furloughed. Thanks to the standoff between the President and Congress over funding for the wall, my paycheck is now being held hostage.

Most non-government folks don’t know what this means, nor do they really care.  The common thought from the public is that all government employees are overpaid and lazy. While that is true in ANY business, that’s not true for most of us who take pride in our jobs and what we do for the American people.   Also, just because we work for the government it doesn’t mean we take sides either.

So, it doesn’t matter to me if you are a Trump supporter or anti-Trump, this government shutdown truly affects normal, hard-working people, not the politicians who will still get their paychecks while those of us in the trenches of the government workforce have to stress over paying our bills.

I have been a federal employee for the past 35 years which includes eight years of military service.  When these government shutdowns happen, it is quite stressful and very frustrating for me.  First, the bills still have to be paid.  Although they have paid us back in the past there is never any guarantees that will happen.  I don’t know many people who can afford to miss a paycheck or have it delayed when you have bills coming due at various dates of each month.  Second, even though the general public is told that the government is “shutdown” there are still people working.  Agencies determine who are the “essential” and “non-essential” personnel.  Today I have been put in the “non-essential” group and thus I am not allowed to go to work.  The frustrating part of all of this for me is that the people who are working are creating more work for me to catch up on when I return.  My work doesn’t get done because I am furloughed.  My feeling is that if the government is shutdown it truly needs to be shutdown and NO ONE should be working unless it is for safety or national security reasons.

The last time I was furloughed, I was told I was non-essential until the work started piling up and then my supervisor said I needed to come it to handle the workload.  Well, that’s a bit hypocritical don’t you think?  I am non-essential until the workload piles up and then I become essential.  And the folks that have to work during the shutdown usually won’t get any more pay than those who are not allowed to work.  That isn’t much fair either.

I don’t like this whole government shutdown tactic politicians use.  Never have.  There should be a way to get things done without punishing hardworking employees that truly work and do their jobs.

Most of the general public don’t care that people like me have been furloughed.   They are quite critical about it and truly don’t understand the situation.  Believe me, I’m not asking for sympathy.  I just want to go back to work and I’m mad as hell that the politicians hold our paychecks hostage during these times. The shutdown hits people like me pretty hard.  While roughly 800,000 government employees are set to be affected by the shutdown and likely won’t see back pay until after it’s resolved, another subset of contractors isn’t going to be paid at all. As many as 2,000 subcontractors in federal buildings including janitors, security guards, and cafeteria servers are not only experiencing a sharp break in their work schedules, they also won’t be compensated for this pause.

As for members of Congress, they will see no breaks in their pay whatsoever. Unlike other government employees, they won’t even have to rely on back pay because their salaries are written into the Constitution and will be continuous throughout the shutdown.

And that’s fair?  So how are we – the average government worker – responsible for this shutdown?  Shouldn’t the ones would caused the shutdown be more directly affected?  This doesn’t make sense to me.

I hate being a pawn in these political standoffs.  I have a mortgage to pay, Christmas to pay for and bills that won’t understand that my paycheck may or may not come.  Honestly it often seems that politicians don’t think very much of us.  They all seem to buy in to the myth that we are all overpaid and underworked.  Most of us take pride in our jobs and do it regardless of whether our leaders are Republican, Democrat or any other political party.  We do our jobs to support our country.  We work for the American people.  The taxpayers (including me) pay for our salaries and most of us do it with integrity.

It’s frustrating to constantly be put in the this situation.   Last time it was about funding the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and this time it is about the wall.  It will be about something else next time.  It really gets old and wears down the federal employees who just want to do their jobs.