As the partial government shutdown continues employees at the Voice of America and Radio/TV Marti continue to suffer the consequences of not receiving a paycheck. AFGE Local 1812 has heard from numerous members who have had to make do without their paychecks and the uncertainty of when they would receive their next one. Some examples of how the shutdown is affecting members include:
An employee told AFGE Local 1812 that he had to borrow from his savings in order to make his January mortgage and to pay for his utilities. He has no idea where he will get the money for his February mortgage.
One employee had to borrow money from his retirement plan and will have to delay his retirement. Also, the reality is that OPM has been delayed in processing federal retirements and the shutdown will no doubt, only have a negative impact on the timely processing of retirements in the future.
Another reported that she had to tap into her savings to pay for her mortgage, gas, groceries, cellphone, etc.
One employee had major surgery in December. He got an infection while in the hospital and has major medical bills piling up. He does not have the opportunity to find another job while he is recuperating.
Another employee reports that he had to raid his kid’s college fund to make payments that were due including the mortgage. He has had to put a spring break trip for his kids on hold and he reports the kids are really upset over the whole situation.
An employee reported that his wife had a high-risk pregnancy and was unable to work so his household was reduced to a one paycheck household with high medical bills. Now he has been forced to borrow money from friends and does not know what he will do if the shutdown lasts much longer.
An employee is worried that his automatic payments may have insufficient funds. He has two kids in college and had to make tuition payments. He was sending money to his mother overseas and for the first time has had to skip sending her the money she relies on.
Another employee’s spouse is also a government employee and he too is not receiving a paycheck due to the shutdown. They will have to dip into savings to make the next mortgage payment if this shutdown continues. They have kids in college and have no idea how they will make those payments. To make matters worse they have medical bills piling up due to the employee’s cancer treatments.
An employee has had to resort to a food bank and to pawning personal items. A friend even donated items to her so she could pawn them. The employee’s spouse was not working so they were already reduced to a one paycheck household.
To add insult to injury most of these members have been excepted from the furlough so they are being required to work even though they are not going to be paid until the shutdown is over. Those that have been excepted from the furlough cannot apply for unemployment benefits and they cannot seek a job in the meantime.
Those that have been furloughed can apply for unemployment but will have to pay it back when they receive their back pay. Many are finding it hard to find work in the meantime because employers know that once the shutdown is over, they will go back to their government jobs.
For our members, AFGE has information on how you may be able to get assistance during the shutdown. Go to: https://www.afge.org/take-acti…/campaigns/stop-the-shutdown/ for information about possible financial assistance, TSP loan information, furloughed worker support from Union Plus, and how to find your local food bank.
Ordinary middle class Americans are suffering over a political squabble. Our paychecks are being held hostage because of a funding dispute between the White House and Congress. It is time to decouple our paychecks from this dispute and federal employee workers’ paychecks should never be part of a budget dispute in the future.
Photo: AFGE Members protest the shutdown in New York City.