Workers prepping for second jobs amid pending government shutdown

Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 7:26 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Time is running out for lawmakers to prevent a government shutdown and it doesn’t look like they’re even close to getting a deal done. Here’s what lawmakers still can’t agree on: whether the deal should be temporary and last a month or a year.

As the debate rages on it leaves millions of Americans in limbo parks will close, services like food stamps and WIC could be cut off and nearly one million workers will be off the job without pay thousands of them are right here in Kansas City. The burden will be widespread because the federal government is the largest employer around the Kansas City Metro. According to the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, 20,846 people are employed with a federal agency.

Four years ago, the government shut down for more than 30 days. During that time, some local IRS employees had to get second jobs to pay their bills. This time around, some of them have been preparing for the same outcome.

“It seems like we’re being used as pawns when we’re just ordinary people,” Tami Ford said.

IRS employees like Ford are unsure what the future holds if the government shuts down. Because her children also work for the agency, her whole family could struggle.

“My two adult children work here so this will impact us immediately,” the Executive Vice President of NTEU Chapter 66 said. “We usually rely on each other, and we can’t rely on and support each other if we’re all in the same predicament.”

Other leaders with the union representing IRS workers claim many of their staff live like a lot of Americans: paycheck to paycheck. They said some of their workers may have to visit food banks just to keep their families fed.

“I actually had to get a second job making sandwiches in order to pay for the gas to come to this job for which I was not getting paid,” NTEU Chapter 66 1st Vice President Daniel Scharpenburg said.

The Social Security Administration, which also has a facility in Kansas City, is expected to furlough around 8,500 employees if the government shuts down. Which will delay benefit verifications, but not outgoing payments for those part of the program.

“People in Washington forget that we’re real people and real people are suffering because of this situation that’s going on,” Scharpenburg added. “Not just financially but the anxiety is really high. Many of us are really nervous and afraid.”

Despite TSA employees responsible for airport security not being paid, they’ll still show up to work because there department is deemed essential. Once a shutdown ends, they’ll be reimbursed for all the days they worked. In a statement to KCTV, KCI Airport leaders explained travelers will not be impacted.

“With a possible government shut down looming, most aspects of U.S. civil aviation system would not cease operating should a shutdown occur. From a passenger standpoint, it would be business as usual. Most front-line aviation-sector federal employees are classified as excepted or essential, including FAA air traffic controllers and safety inspectors, Transportation Security Officers, Federal Air Marshals, Customs and Border Protection field operations staff, and others. They are compelled to work for the good of the public. In past shutdowns, federal employees received payment after the fact. At Kansas City International Airport, passenger and baggage screening is accomplished through the TSA’s Screening Partnership Program. The SPP contracts security screening services at commercial airports to qualified private companies. These companies run screening operations under federal oversight and must comply with all TSA security screening procedures. Screeners in Kansas City are employed by VMD Corporation and will be paid by VMD in the event of a government shutdown.”

KCI Airport Leaders

Federal Courts also won’t be impacted in most cases. In a statement to KCTV, U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore said the U.S. Attorney’s Office will maintain critical operations.

“I want to assure the public that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue critical operations in the event of a lapse in federal appropriations. Criminal investigations and prosecutions will continue without interruption, as this falls under the exception for emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property. Some prosecutors and support staff necessary to fulfill this critical function will continue working to serve the public and the interests of justice, although they will not receive a paycheck during any lapse in appropriations. Other employees will be furloughed without pay, and some functions of the office will be curtailed or suspended.”

U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore