Employees concerned about local impacts of a government shutdown

Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 6:40 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) -ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Local unions and other organizations that support federal employees are worried about a likely government shutdown this weekend.

The American Federation of Government Employees has warned that hundreds of thousands of federal workers may be furloughed as a result of a lapse in federal funding, meaning many may have to show up to work without a regular paycheck arriving on time.

There are approximately 15 thousand AFGE employees in the St. Louis area.

Case McCaleb, a VA worker who is the secretary of AFGE Local 2192, said many of them are worried about what will happen to their families in the coming days if a federal appropriations bill isn’t passed soon.

“Everyone’s stressed out,” he said. “We don’t know if after the 10th there will be a furlough or if they’ll still have to show up to work.”

Meredith Knopp, the CEO of the St. Louis Area Food Bank, said the organization has already been fielding calls from federal employees looking for resources.

“We expect to have many families, int he military, their families, with FAA, they’re worried about this. we’re standing by to support them.”

The shutdown could also mean national parks, such as the Gateway Arch, limit or close down visitors centers. A spokesperson for the National Parks Service said NPS is still determining contingency plans.

The furloughs could also mean delays in service at Social Security and Medicaid offices, depending on how many essential workers are asked to continue working.

TSA employees, while considered essential, have faced staffing issues in recent months. The AFGE has warned that since overtime is limited during a furlough that airports may also be short staffed.

Pat White, the president of the St. Louis Labor Council, said there may also be a ripple effect from a potential shutdown in industries like trucking or construction among companies who have government contracts.

“Contractors who work for the government may have to furlough people too. Their contracts are going to stop,” he said. “It’s important for people to realize that this is not about politics. It’s about people.”