Furloughed federal workers have to wait, see if they will get paid


by WHAS11


Posted on October 4, 2013 at 5:42 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 4 at 6:33 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Eight-hundred thousand federal workers remain on furlough Friday, Oct. 4. It marks the fourth full day of the partial government shutdown.

Congress will need to decide whether to pay them for the work they've missed.

Most of the nearly 2,000 U.S. Census Bureau workers in Jeffersonville are on unpaid furlough because of the government shutdown. 

“This is a big impact for us because a lot of us live paycheck to paycheck,” Kristy Demas, furloughed U.S. Census worker said.

Though their paychecks aren't due until next week, workers are already feeling the pinch and are unclear whether they will qualify for unemployment benefits.

“A lot of people aren't going to be able to get food stamps.  How are we supposed to eat? Put gas in our car, pay our electric,” Demas said.

“We're not working - we're not being paid, it's not by our choice,” Mary O’Rourke, another furloughed U.S. Census worker, said.

A Census Bureau worker for 25 years, Mary O'Rourke has been through this before.  After the last shutdown in 1996, and each of the other 16 shutdowns since 1976, Congress granted back-pay to furloughed federal workers...but there's no guarantee.

“A lot of us are starting to feel like it's not going to happen this time around,” O’Rourke said.

 “I wasn't near as worried back then as I am now,” Robin Byrd, a furloughed U.S. Census worker, said.

Once Congress negotiates an end to the shutdown, it will have to decide.  Should the estimated 800,000 furloughed federal workers get paid for their time off? Many people had their own opinions about it.

“I think it would be like a taxpayer-paid vacation if they were paid back what they were off for,” Jason Renfro said. “If you don't work, you shouldn't get paid for it.”

“They had no way to control taking this time off. So therefore, I vote for giving them their money,” Ricky Martin said.

 “I think they should be paid. Absolutely, it's not their fault,” Deena Zehnder said.

“Things are different now. Just, you know, with everything. Congress, just the attitudes of everybody are different,” Robin Byrd, a furloughed U.S. Census worker, said.

Even the federal workers who are not furloughed are not getting paid.  Yet, there is no question those workers will get back pay. Those who are furloughed will have to wait to see how Congress votes. A pending bill on that measure could get a vote Friday or Saturday.