Federal workers must show up and can't strike even when not paid in Trump's Shutdown


A government that is willing to make a law that says individuals have to work without pay could make a law that said a corporation had to provide services without pay. Somehow I share your assessment that they wouldn’t, though.


As the saying went amongst those who lived under Soviet rule: “you pretend to pay us, we pretend to work.”

Of course that paragon of late-stage capitalism, duh Mastah uh duh Aht uh duh Deel, doesn’t bother pretending to pay them at all. He’s too busy having a hissy-fit.


You want some Freedom Fries with that?


Indeed that is exactly how it worked before they created the TSA. Airports were required to provide security and they charged the airlines. I’m not a fan of most of the TSA security theater, but when the airlines were paying the bills and the airports were hiring the contractors, security was less invasive but MUCH less effective. They were significantly less interested in screening than in not pissing off passengers. Think of metal detectors tuned that you could walk through with a gun. A friend who was a policeman forgot that he had his off-duty pistol with him and walked through to pick up his wife. Not a peep from the machine.


Back pay is a HUGE “it depends”.

For direct federal workers, paid based on full time normal office work, if the new budget includes back pay, they’ll get it. Very likely.

For direct federal workers, hourly scheduled shift type workers, who simply have no scheduled shifts right now, it’s questionable at best.

For contractor employee scheduled shift works, not a chance.

Think all the office outsourced maintenance, cafeteria, security, and other support jobs. Things where they are not federal employees. Instead the federal office contracts with a company to provide some service, say the food service operation, security, or the garbage truck drivers. That company has its own hourly workers it pays for working in the cafeteria, security booths, front office security, driving trucks, etc. Those contractors aren’t being paid, they’re not scheduling those employees, they’ll never get paid.

Depending on the size of the contractor, some of them will probably never recover and go out of business shutting down instead. Could the business you work for survive an entire month with no revenue?

Even more unfortunate, those workers are likely the least able to buffer a missed paycheck or worse an entire month of no pay. Double whammy in a dual income household for different contractors.

The ripple effect if this doesn’t end soon will be an entire generation that loses progress out of poverty and slips backwards.


At some level yes.

It’s even more fun in an agency that’s partially open through different funding. That additional funding source is typically designated to cover some specific activity. So, now you have an agency that’s partially open using the independent funding source, say application or user fees, and those fees are ear marked to cover certain activity. Probably the ones the fee is collected for. Now you have an employee who normally works on some of those activities and other activities too. During the partial open, they’re restricted to only working on the direct tasks covered by the fees and not other activities they typically do. Really messes up your scheduled day and deadlines when some projects can’t be worked on.

Bonus, the admin work to accept new fees and get them into the process probably isn’t covered by the fees, only the work afterwards. So, the longer this goes, the smaller that bucket of money gets with no way to collect any more fees eventually ending even that partial work.


More evidence this shut down is working as intended for those who engineered it.


Although they can probably last longer than most business’ because they won’t be paying those employees. Although they’d still be paying part of their health insurance. Most of these companies don’t have huge overhead costs.


A. I don’t think most contracts are pay as you go for services rendered. There already tends to be a significant lag on payments. That’s one of the things that makes federal contracting difficult for most small businesses.
B. A large number of federal contractors are multi-billion dollar companies (Lockheed Martin alone gets nearly 3-4% of the federal budget).

Still you’re right there will be quite a bit of collateral damage on this one and not just in the areas you would expect. For example there are a lot of restaurants and food cart vendors in downtown DC saying business is basically non-existent. And that’s not just from the lack of federal workers. Tourism is down due to the museum closures, etc… If senate passes something soon the ripples should be minimal but the longer the shutdown goes on the more likely we get into a severe negative feedback loop.


Came to post about the candy weirdness. What a senile nut-job.


tootsie roll?


Early 90s, traveling for this dinnerware company I worked for in college, I set off an airport metal detector with a couple barrettes in my hair. As they’re wanding me, a military guy in full uniform, chest loaded with medals, strolls through with nary a beep.

Of the two of us, I feel the hippie 20-year-old in a broomstick skirt was less likely to be packing a gun.


To be fair, this is something that predates Trump really. It was Reagan who fired the PATCO members who refused to come back to work…

There is indeed federal law that says certain public sector workers can’t strike. Reagan put that to the test and won.


Happened before, when Reagan fired the air traffic controllers en mass when the refused to come back to work during the 81 PATCO strike.

A shut down wasn’t part of that strike, but they ended up using lots of military controllers and hiring new ones who were less well-trained.


We had a good family friend who lost his controller’s job because of this. He wound up opening a mechanic’s shop, and inspired me to become more hands-on with my car and other things. Also, a pretty darn good youth soccer coach.
I wonder if many others weathered the period as well.


I’m sure it was probably hit or miss. Reagan initially banned them all from working in the field again for life, but that was later rescinded, so at least some ended up as air traffic controllers again…


Sub-optimal in the short-term, maybe. In the longer-term? Workers’ protections might get higher priority. I, for one, would dearly love to see this situation used to pass new legislation against this sort of thing happening in the future. Unlikely that the GOP would stand for laws that allow the military to get shut down while “liberal pork barrel” programs like food stamps amd Medicare continue, but hey, maybe the Dems could retake the Senate…



No, it’s exactly the opposite, actually… especially telling us that a CEO doesn’t have the capacity to run a government because he doesn’t understand the complexities.


Shortly after 9/11, DH and I visited DC. It was a ghost town, except for a few congresscritters jogging around the Oval accompanied by their bodyguards. Equally striking was how vacant the DC area was for casual tourism and non-required personnel. The restaurants we ate at were almost pathetically grateful for our patronage.


Actually, it would be optimal, not sub-optimal. It would be optimal in the sense that if they all up and resigned you’d see a solution come about real quick. OTOH, if they wanted to, another way they could force the matter is to WAY WAY WAY over do their jobs. Pat everyone down, check every bag twice, run all the scans, etc., etc. In short, get super anal about every single damn passenger. This would also force the matter to a quick solution, and would have the added bonus of getting the public involved in the uproar, further expediting a solution.


I LOVE work-to-rule, and it’s not just a matter of what’s not specifically assigned, as @wazroth commented.

Lots of little safety rules and procedures are routinely ignored because they’re finicky and get in the way of getting work done. Work-to-rule also means doing literally everything by the literal book and not using independent thought to solve the problems created by working by the book. E.g. (and this is just an example based on no information about the job) even if it slows things waaaay down, if the rule is that you search every passenger bag that has a certain shape show up on x-ray as a TSA agent, then you search EVERY passenger bag. That means that thing that you’ve seen a hundred times and know is a comb? Could be a knife… I dunno, gotta open it. Managers can’t micromanage you out of doing that.

Same goes for airline pilots, (as a for instance, since they’re not federal workers): Whose bag is this? No one knows? Weird, it wasn’t here when I got here. It bears striking resemblance to something that’s been lying in my closet and seems empty, but since I don’t know whose bag it is, now we have to wait to get to the bottom of this. It’s a safety issue.

Work-to-rule is brilliant because not only does it remind people that they need their employees to exercise judgement (i.e. there are no truly “unskilled” jobs), there are many ways to apply it, it’s just a matter of imagination.