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Shutdown News: Should Furloughed Employees Be Required to Work Without Pay?

Should "essential" employees have to work without pay during a shutdown?

by Countable | Updated on 1.16.19

What’s the latest?

  • A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled that furloughed government workers who are currently not being paid because of the partial shutdown must continue to do their jobs.
"At best it would create chaos and confusion,” said U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon. “At worst it could be catastrophic . . . I’m not going to put people’s lives at risk.”
  • The National Treasury Employees Union had brought the suit in consolidation with a claim from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. The workers had petitioned for a temporary restraining order that would remove the obligation to go to work if they weren’t being paid.
"Calling people back to work, as the federal government is doing, without paying them is unlawful," attorney Gregory O'Duden, who’s representing the unions, told NPR. "We will continue our fight to rectify what we think is an erroneous decision.” 
  • According to the New York Times, a typical federal workers has missed $5,000 in wages on average so far—that’s more than $200 million per workday.
  • In the past, Congress has retroactively paid federal workers after shutdowns. 

Who are considered “essential employees”?

According to court documents, “essential” government employees are those “performing emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.” They include:

  • The Federal Aviation Administration
  • Border Patrol agents
  • Immigration enforcement personnel
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Federal firefighters

The State of the Shutdown: January 16

  • Wednesday, January 16, marks the 26th day of the partial government shutdown.
  • Congress and the White House are trying to broker a deal after the House passed a continuing resolution (CR) on December 20th that included $5.7 billion for border security ― including wall construction ― and $7.8 billion in disaster relief along party-lines. It lacked the votes to advance in the Senate, as have bills passed in January by the Democrat-controlled House since the new Congress convened.
  • Approximately 800,000 federal workers won't receive their paychecks because of the budget impasse.
  • Seven departments have been affected, including Homeland Security, Justice, Housing, Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, and the Treasury.
  • Sections of Joshua Tree National Park, Yosemite National Park, and much of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks are closed. People are reporting longer lines at airports due to short staffing at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints. Other impacts of the shutdown include Smithsonian museums shuttering and various federal agencies putting loan applications on hold. And Native American tribes who receive substantial federal funding are struggling.

—Josh Herman

(Photo Credit: AFGE via Flickr)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(121)
  • burrkitty
    Voted No
    01/17/2019
    ···

    Slavery is unconstitutional. We fought a war over this.

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  • James
    01/16/2019
    ···

    That depends on what they do for the Federal Gov! Did they swear an oath for their position then yes! Federal workers get full back pay when returning to work! As a Vet and as I work in the private sector there is there is No Such Term as payed furlough! It’s called Layed Off! And you get only unemployment which is meager compared to my regular take home earnings! Federal workers are extremely spoiled and protected! They can be the laziest most useless piece of junk on the planet and not get fired! You have so many damned non elected beurocrats imbedded in government that are greed to do whatever they please and can’t be called on it! A federal employee has to be bending over way backwards and really bad to get fired! This government is way too Top Heavy and we must reduce the size of government and agencies! The American taxpayer can no longer handle this!

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  • David
    Voted Yes
    01/17/2019
    ···

    Unfortunately, as a government employee, that is part of the risk of working for the government. If you don’t like that part of the job, you are free to get another job.

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  • Madelynne
    Voted No
    01/16/2019
    ···

    No. Only those responsible for the shutdown should go without pay. Those who have no choice in the matter should be able to support themselves and their families without having to worry about their paychecks.

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  • SneakyPete
    Voted Yes
    01/17/2019
    ···

    According to court documents, “essential” government employees are those “performing emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.” They include: *The Federal Aviation Administration *Border Patrol agents *Immigration enforcement personnel *Law enforcement officers *Federal firefighters

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  • Jann
    01/16/2019
    ···

    They Should ALL WALK AND WE WILL BE OUT THERE WITH THEM!!! NOT ONE GOVERNMENT employee should Receive pay when you shut down the government!! You ALL are DEMONS of Stupidity for ALLOWING THIS as an option and choosing it!!

    Like (4)
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  • Ethelouise
    Voted No
    01/16/2019
    ···

    It's slavery. Those who want the shut down to continue are being paid and that includes the president, who made a big show of giving up that first paycheck but not the subsequent others! And was ordered by law to dissolve his charitable foundation because he took money from it! Those in the Senate and House are still collecting paychecks! So, nobodies hurting but the families that live paycheck to paycheck, you know something Trump NEVER HAD TO DO!

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  • Jeffrey
    Voted No
    01/16/2019
    ···

    No employee should be forced or required to work for free regardless of the necessity...put those 800000 back to work with pay and backpay. Congressmen/women and the “president” are continuing to get paid while almost a million federal employees are without work. Doesn’t matter the job of you aren’t getting paid then you shouldn’t be required to work. If it’s essential to have employees there then it’s essential that they get paid

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  • Tinee
    Voted No
    01/16/2019
    ···

    I have talked with people working without pay. Their mind's are on their own problems not their jobs. The shutdown stopped their income their bills keep coming in, some have final notices. The possibility of not being able to keep their homes , buy food & having utilities turned off have become a daily worry. People are rationing their medicine because they can't afford to buy the next refill.

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  • PLD
    Voted No
    01/16/2019
    ···

    Using innocent Americans as pawns in a TRUMP/GOP political game is disgusting! Even worse is the fact that the players are collecting their salaries!😠

    Like (8)
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  • TrulyTexan
    Voted No
    01/16/2019
    ···

    Terrorists trump is holding this country hostage and using government workers as his human shield. Forcing people to work without pay is illegal. And promising reparations later is meaningless, especially from someone known for never paying his debts.

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  • Whitney
    Voted No
    01/17/2019
    ···

    No. I believe that’s called slavery.

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  • Hillary
    Voted No
    01/17/2019
    ···

    Hell no. Why should a government incapable of doing its work require others to do their work? Politicians are servants not masters.

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  • BeStrong
    Voted No
    01/17/2019
    ···

    I’d like to see my private sector employer tell me that I had to come to work and that I wouldn’t be paid until they could figure ‘stuff’ out. Would U go to work, pay for gas and car maintenance, day care, food out of pocket, all while your ‘employer’ guarantees only that there is no foreseeable end to your NO Pay status. Would you agree to potentially lose your residence, have ur utilities shut off, lose that car, not feed ur self or your kids, all for a Government Spectacle. Work is honorable, these Americans don’t deserve this. Mr Trump, Mr McConnell, this political theatre should end your tenure in public life. Get these people paid! #DISGRACEFUL

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  • Miles
    Voted No
    01/17/2019
    ···

    Forced labor without pay? Just open the government and don’t build a wall. Do your job congress and overuse a presidential veto. That is the purpose of checks and balances

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  • Dawn
    Voted No
    01/17/2019
    ···

    No. Only those responsible for the shutdown should go without pay. Those who have no choice in the matter should be able to support themselves and their families without having to worry about their paychecks.

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  • Marylynn
    Voted No
    01/17/2019
    ···

    If you're going to include lawmakers and the dirtbag in the White House.....

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  • Riley
    Voted Yes
    01/16/2019
    ···

    They will get the pay. They know this is a possibility with their job path and should have saved a little extra.

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  • rjweidman
    Voted No
    01/16/2019
    ···

    Please address the issue of federal employees working without pay. Everyone works to support family. None should be required to work without compensation. Treat our federal workers with a little respect, Please.

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  • Amanda
    Voted No
    01/17/2019
    ···

    Maybe the country needs to feel the impact of this shut down more so anyone who supports the wall can see the reality Trump is creating.

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