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Federal shutdown forces some to work without pay

By David Skolnick

Friday, January 11, 2019

RELATED: Payday without pay hits federal workers as shutdown drags on

By David Skolnick


Some federal employees in the Mahoning Valley will be on the job but won’t get a paycheck for the first time today because of the partial government shutdown.

The shutdown started Dec. 22, resulting from President Donald Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion in federal funds to build a border wall and the refusal of congressional Democrats to agree to his demand.

“People here are anxious and stressed, and reality is setting in that we’re not getting paid,” said Joseph Mayle, a corrections officer at the Federal Correctional Institution at Elkton and president of the 300-plus-member American Federation of Government Employees Local 607.

Those at the prison are required to work, even though they won’t be paid, because they are considered essential federal workers.

“There’s zero dollars coming in,” Mayle said. “It’s terrible. What’s happening is terrible. The essential staff of the federal government is being forced to work and we’re not getting paid. We’re being used as political pawns. It’s un-American to ask anyone to work and not get paid. It’s inhumane.”

Today is also the first day that Transportation Security Administration agents will work without getting paid.

The TSA currently has “a small number of screeners” based at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna, a TSA spokesman said.

He noted, however, that because of the end of commercial flight service there, the process is underway to “de-federalize” the airport – that process just takes some time. He said TSA agents based at the airport have been relocated to other airports but are sometimes in Vienna.

Federal courts, such as the Northern District of Ohio that includes Youngstown, have enough funding to last until next Friday. After that, the courts will operate but with only “essential work” being done requiring some employees to work without pay. What that work includes and who would be required to work without a salary would be up to Patricia Gaughan, the district’s chief judge.

Judge Gaughan already had ordered all civil cases in the district involving the federal government to be postponed during the shutdown because civil lawyers and support staff in the U.S. Attorney’s office are on furlough.

Also furloughed are employees with the IRS, including those at the downtown Youngstown office.

Meanwhile, there are several other federal employees in the Valley unaffected by the partial government shutdown.

That includes those at the U.S. Postal Service, Social Security office and at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Cleveland, along with other Democrats, introduced legislation Thursday in Congress that would protect federal workers and their families from foreclosures, evictions and loan defaults during the shutdown.

The proposal, which is unlikely to make progress because Republicans control the Senate, would prohibit landlords and creditors from taking action against federal workers and contractors impacted by the shutdown and unable to pay rent or repay loans.

“Workers and their families should not have to lose their homes or defaulting on loans because of President Trump’s temper tantrum,” Brown said. “President Trump is hurting the people who make this country work, and he needs to do his job and reopen the government right now.”

Contributor: Jordyn Grzelewski, staff writer