- Posted October 2, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Shutdown over: What next?
"Essential" Employees are NOT being paid
It's time to clear something up. "Essential" employees, those who have been deemed by their agencies to be vital to the protection of life, property and matters related to national security, are for the most part working for free as of October 1st.
These employees include Border Patrol agents, other Federal law enforcement personnel (DEA, FBI, ATF, ICE), TSA Security Personnel, and the list goes on and on. These folks are mandated to be at work, to continue to put their lives on the line, but now they are doing it for free. They don't have the option to seek a part time job during their down-time because for many there is no down time. They are still expected to work their long shifts, still be available to respond to emergencies, still get their job done. For many, they would need to actually seek permission from their agencies in order to accept outside employment, as it may conflict with their current jobs.
There is the implied promise of back pay for these essential employees. According to what essential employees are being told by their agencies, they will be first in line, and once funding has been passed in Congress, their agencies will make back pay a priority. This is certainly an advantage compared to the plight of furloughed workers who have no such guarantees, although during the last government shutdown in 1996, the "non-essential" employees who were furloughed, did eventually receive back pay as well.
So while an essential employee is no doubt pleased that they will eventually receive back pay for the FREE work they are doing today, the operative word here is "EVENTUALLY". The last government shutdown in 1996 lasted for 21 days. If the last few days are any indicator of hope and progress, this could be a long shutdown.
And while the U.S. Congress feels comfortable delaying pay for Federal employees who continue to work, the bills keep on rolling in. Not only that, but many of these essential employees have high security clearances, and MUST pay their bills on time to maintain those clearances.
Congress, meanwhile, continues to be paid.