Hill talks deals, but unions worry under shutdown countdown

Last week, feds and the whole country suffered an edge-your-seat, narrowly averted end-of-year shutdown. This week, feds and the whole country hope, of course, to be so lucky again. ​

Last week, feds and the whole country suffered an edge-your-seat, narrowly averted end-of-year shutdown. This week, feds and the whole country hope, of course, to be so lucky again.

That’s because last week Congress and the White House only managed to approve one week’s worth of funding for federal obligations.

And—here we are again, that precious week mostly gone, with no funding bill yet on the president’s desk. The airwaves are filled with stories of likely compromise, but feds and their unions remain spooked.

“A pre-holiday government shutdown, which is possible starting Friday night [Dec. 18], would be financially catastrophic for federal employees and their families and especially disruptive as our nation confronts ongoing public health and economic crises,” the National Treasury Employees Union said in a statement on its homepage.

“Just as federal employees are working around the clock to battle the pandemic, strengthen the economic safety net for vulnerable Americans and secure the country, there is yet another chance that their year-end paychecks will not arrive,” declared Tony Reardon, president of NTEU, in a release. “A government shutdown at such a perilous time would be disastrous for federal employees and taxpayers alike, and we strongly urge our elected leaders to do what is necessary to keep government open.”

The National Federation of Federal Employees, another massive federal employees union, also expressed its concerns. While emphasizing that regardless of whether the country crashes into another shutdown, like NTEU and other major unions have said NFFE is demanding that feds receive a reasonable raise whenever funding bills are passed.

“There is a lot of uncertainty going into the last few weeks of the 116th Congress of the United States,” NFFE stated, of the shutdown threat and a slew of other unfinished congressional business. “[B]ut one issue very clear to federal employees and their families is that workers cannot afford a pay freeze for 2021.”

“At the moment, several legislative remedies exist to promote a pay raise for 2021 but time and options are running out,” NFFE continued. “Whether Congress passes an omnibus appropriations bill or passes a Continuing Resolution to avoid a shutdown by December 18 at midnight, federal employees should contact their House and Senate offices to insist upon a pay increase, and say No to a Pay Freeze.”

Another major, the American Federation of Government Employees, joined NTEU and NFFE with a similar call for lawmakers and the president to provide an adequate increase.

“Federal employees are the backbone of our functioning democracy and they have continued serving the American people with honor and distinction despite facing tremendous challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic,” said AFGE President Everett Kelley in a release.

Major federal employee unions and other advocates have coalesced around a demand for a 3% pay increase for next year.

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