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The United States Government Is Shut Down. Does Anyone Care?

Those living outside the USA may not know that our government has been shut down for about a month now. Those inside the USA may or may not have seen the effects and, for some of us, may be completely oblivious. For those who work for the US government, I am sure all of you know about the shut down very well as you have gotten an unscheduled vacation without pay or have been asked to work without pay. You, of course, care very much about the shutdown. Those not being directly affected probably do not care very much, if at all.

The basic reason our government is shut down is U.S. President Trump is using this as leverage to get a wall built on the border of the USA and Mexico. The intention of Trump's wall is to stop or slow down illegal immigration to the USA across our southern border. 

At AFT the government shut down has affected us, but only slightly. Frankly, I am not aware of everything that is or is not shut down. One way we have been slightly impacted is that we license a thermophysical property database from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The database is called REFPROP and we added to all our software in 2018. We have needed some technical support on REFPROP but NIST is closed and emails bounce back informing us of the shut shutdown.

This week I happen to be flying for business purposes within the USA and the airport security, called TSA for those who live outside the U.S., is semi-shutdown. The TSA workers are there (for now) but are not getting paid. The ones I met at security this week were much more cheerful than I would have expected, given the circumstances. At some point, if the impasse is not resolved, the TSA workers are going to have to quit and find other jobs or some other source of income. I hope I can get back home later this week! 

AFT has customers at many U.S. National Labs. My guess is they are shut down too, but I do not know. Coming up in February we are scheduled to teach training classes for two customers whose business is the defense industry. They seem to be working. I do not know if they are getting paid for their work by the U.S. government.

There seems to a large amount of politcal situations around the world at the moment, and we are keeping an eye on several including Brexit. 

Regardless, AFT will continue on our own road to ensure engineers, no matter what their countries political situations, are able to design and troubleshoot engineering projects. 

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Comments 3

Guest - Lynn Conrad on Wednesday, 23 January 2019 17:53

Trey, no one is working without pay. Their pay checks have been delayed until the shutdown is over, but all government workers will get paid for all of the time they are off or having to work. The delayed pay checks are certainly an issue for those living pay check to pay check, but it's not like they couldn't see the shutdown coming. My neighbor works for the federal government and has enough savings to float him through the shutdown. For him, this is a unscheduled vacation and he is taking advantage of it as such because he know after the shutdown he will receive pay for all the time he's off.

You're a professional technical person. Shame on you for feeding into and contributing to all of the sensationalism and misinformation. I would expect more from someone such as yourself.

Trey, no one is working without pay. Their pay checks have been delayed until the shutdown is over, but all government workers will get paid for all of the time they are off or having to work. The delayed pay checks are certainly an issue for those living pay check to pay check, but it's not like they couldn't see the shutdown coming. My neighbor works for the federal government and has enough savings to float him through the shutdown. For him, this is a unscheduled vacation and he is taking advantage of it as such because he know after the shutdown he will receive pay for all the time he's off. You're a professional technical person. Shame on you for feeding into and contributing to all of the sensationalism and misinformation. I would expect more from someone such as yourself.
Trey Walters on Wednesday, 23 January 2019 21:14

Hi Lynn:

Sorry if I offended you or anyone else. I myself approved your comment here for public view on this blog. When I came through TSA two days ago on the way to Houston I talked to two TSA officers. I thanked them for working without pay for the moment. When I asked them about the lack of pay, they said "they HOPED they would get paid for the previous month of work." I assumed that was the case but it was strange to hear. I think/hope they were joking about hoping for back pay. But I heard this directly from the mouths of people not getting paid. I was not making it up.

At this very moment I am at an airport in Houston waiting to return home. I could not enter my terminal directly because the security is shut down in that terminal. This airport has 5 terminals. I had to enter a different terminal to get here, a minor inconvenience to me compared to the folks not getting paid, but a visible symbol to me that some folks not getting paid are not (or cannot) come to work.

The engineers at NIST who are not working at all, it is not clear to me (or probably most Americans) whether they would be paid at all for the forced downtime over a month. I have read a lot of news articles on this in various forms and not a single one has said whether NIST-type staff would get paid.

I probably know more about this than the average American who does not work for the US government, but am by no means an expert. If you know whether people at organizations like NIST will get paid even with their forced furlough, please let us know. I myself do not know. My guess is nobody knows yet.

Hi Lynn: Sorry if I offended you or anyone else. I myself approved your comment here for public view on this blog. When I came through TSA two days ago on the way to Houston I talked to two TSA officers. I thanked them for working without pay for the moment. When I asked them about the lack of pay, they said "they HOPED they would get paid for the previous month of work." I assumed that was the case but it was strange to hear. I think/hope they were joking about hoping for back pay. But I heard this directly from the mouths of people not getting paid. I was not making it up. At this very moment I am at an airport in Houston waiting to return home. I could not enter my terminal directly because the security is shut down in that terminal. This airport has 5 terminals. I had to enter a different terminal to get here, a minor inconvenience to me compared to the folks not getting paid, but a visible symbol to me that some folks not getting paid are not (or cannot) come to work. The engineers at NIST who are not working at all, it is not clear to me (or probably most Americans) whether they would be paid at all for the forced downtime over a month. I have read a lot of news articles on this in various forms and not a single one has said whether NIST-type staff would get paid. I probably know more about this than the average American who does not work for the US government, but am by no means an expert. If you know whether people at organizations like NIST will get paid even with their forced furlough, please let us know. I myself do not know. My guess is nobody knows yet.
Guest - Steve on Thursday, 24 January 2019 13:39

What percentage of those workers affected by the shutdown are contractors, rather than government employees, and what is the likelihood that they will get paid? Are they permitted to do other work during this time, or must they be prepared to respond on short notice? Do their contracts include pay if they are not working. I'm not sure that one answer fits all.

What percentage of those workers affected by the shutdown are contractors, rather than government employees, and what is the likelihood that they will get paid? Are they permitted to do other work during this time, or must they be prepared to respond on short notice? Do their contracts include pay if they are not working. I'm not sure that one answer fits all.
Guest
Tuesday, 19 February 2019