Federal Employees On Edge Over Possible Shutdown

Press Release November 7, 2019

Washington D.C. – The possibility of setting a new government funding deadline for mid- or late-December is already creating shutdown anxiety in federal employee households around the country, said NTEU National President Tony Reardon.

Reports say congressional leaders are considering extending the current Nov. 21 deadline another few weeks to buy more time for the sensitive negotiations over agency funding levels. If those negotiations fail, there could be another holiday season shutdown, throwing hundreds of thousands of federal employees into financial peril, just like last year.

“Federal employees, like everyone else, are planning their family year-end celebrations and the thought that a government shutdown could ruin those plans is upsetting,” Reardon said. “Civil servants are not involved in the funding dispute yet they are the ones who suffer if it goes unresolved.”

The last partial government shutdown began Dec. 22 and went through Jan. 25, causing thousands to miss two paychecks and forcing them to rely on unemployment benefits, food banks and credit card debt to make it through. Some employees were forced to work without pay. Others were forced into unpaid furlough status.

Today, we learned even more about the damage the shutdown did to employees at their workplaces. The 2019 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey conducted by the Office of Personnel Management showed that even a partial shutdown hurt workloads, productivity and customer service.

Fifty-five percent of employees said their work was negatively impacted by the shutdown, and 22 percent characterized the impact as “very negative” or “extremely negative.”

Two-thirds said it delayed work; 48 percent said it reduced customer service; 32 percent reported reduced work quality; 46 percent missed deadlines; and 21 percent lost work that is unrecoverable.

“These survey results show, once again, that shutdowns have ripple effects all across our economy. Taxpayers and businesses rely on information and services from various government agencies every day, and locking federal employees out of their jobs for weeks on end hurts everyone,” Reardon said.

NTEU is urging Congress and the administration to approve funding for all government agencies for the rest of the fiscal year, giving federal employees the resources they need to carry out their duties.

NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.