Work­ers get $0 pay stubs

The Maui News - - COUNTY/IN BRIEF - By BRADY McCOMBS and MICHELLE SMITH The As­so­ci­ated Press

Fed­eral em­ploy­ees re­ceived pay stubs with noth­ing but ze­ros Fri­day as the ef­fects of the shut­down hit home.

An es­ti­mated 800,000 gov­ern­ment work­ers missed their pay­checks for the first time since the shut­down be­gan.

Em­ploy­ees posted pic­tures of the pay state­ments and vented their frus­tra­tion as the stand­off over Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­mand for $5.7 bil­lion for a bor­der wall en­tered its 21st day.

“I saw the ze­ros in my pay stub to­day, and it’s a com­bi­na­tion of re­al­ity set­ting in and just sad­ness,” air traf­fic con­troller Josh Maria said. “We’re Amer­ica. We can do bet­ter than this.”

The missed pay­checks were just one sign of the mount­ing toll the shut­down is tak­ing on Amer­i­cans’ daily lives.

Roughly 420,000 fed­eral em­ploy­ees were deemed es­sen­tial and are work­ing un­paid. An ad­di­tional 380,000 are stay­ing home with­out pay. While fur­loughed work­ers have been given back pay in pre­vi­ous shut­downs, there is no guar­an­tee this time.

Work­ers are turn­ing to Uber and other side gigs to pick up some money in the mean­time.

Ellen Jack­son, a Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cer based in Las Ve­gas, is driv­ing full time for a rideshare com­pany to get by. The 59-year-old is plan­ning to re­tire in April.

“I don’t want to bor­row any money,” said Jack­son, an Air Force vet­eran who said she makes about $38,000 a year as a TSA of­fi­cer. “I don’t want to get into a deeper hole.”

Fel­low Las Ve­gas-based TSA agent Julia Peters ap­plied for food stamps on Thurs­day and was ap­proved. She said five of the eight other ap­pli­cants at the ben­e­fits of­fice were also TSA work­ers.

In Falls Church, Va., a school dis­trict held a hir­ing fair for fur­loughed fed­eral em­ploy­ees in­ter­ested in work­ing as sub­sti­tute teach­ers.

Gerri French, who works for the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and has been fur­loughed along with her hus­band, liked the sound of that. “I think it’s a re­ally great school sys­tem, and this would be a great op­por­tu­nity,” French said.

Chris Ge­orge, 48, of Hemet, Calif., has picked up work as a handy­man, turned to a crowd­fund­ing site to raise cash and started driv­ing at Lyft af­ter be­ing fur­loughed from his job as a forestry tech­ni­cian su­per­vi­sor for the U.S. For­est Ser­vice.

But the side gigs aren’t mak­ing much dif­fer­ence, and he has been try­ing to work with his mort­gage com­pany to avoid miss­ing a pay­ment.

“Here we are, Day 21, and all three par­ties can­not even ne­go­ti­ate like adults,” he said, de­scrib­ing gov­ern­ment work­ers like him as “be­ing pawns for an agenda of a wall. You’re not go­ing to put a wall across the Rio Grande, I’m sorry.”

Economists at S&P Global said the shut­down has cost the econ­omy $3.6 bil­lion so far.

The typ­i­cal fed­eral em­ployee makes $37 an hour, which trans­lates into $1,480 a week. That’s nearly $1.2 bil­lion in lost pay each week, when mul­ti­plied by 800,000 work­ers.

Many work­ers live pay­check to pay­check. A Fed­eral Re­serve sur­vey in May found that 40 per­cent of Amer­i­cans would have to bor­row or sell some­thing to make a $400 emer­gency pay­ment.

Gov­ern­ment work­ers are scal­ing back spend­ing, can­cel­ing trips, ap­ply­ing for un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits and tak­ing out loans to stay afloat.

In Den­ver, three-quar­ters of the peo­ple who vis­ited the Food Bank of the Rock­ies’ mo­bile pantry on Fri­day were fur­loughed fed­eral em­ploy­ees.

In Mas­sachusetts, a pri­vate group has stepped up to en­sure that those work­ing at lo­cal Coast Guard sta­tions have food and cloth­ing.

AP photo

Es­ther Anas­ta­sia protests with gov­ern­ment work­ers and their sup­port­ers in Bos­ton on Fri­day. The work­ers ral­lied with Demo­cratic U.S. Sen. Ed Markey to urge that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump put an end to the shut­down so they can get back to work.

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