Respondents reported fears of paying bills and holiday plan disruptions.
As current government funding runs out on Dec. 20, federal employees are worried that a government shutdown could affect their ability to pay bills and their holiday plans, according to a recent survey.
The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 federal employees at 33 agencies and departments, released a survey of its members on Wednesday. With the prospect of another shutdown and missed paycheck, over 81% of respondents said they are worried about paying their bills. As budget negotiations coincide with the holiday season, over 72% said they have already curtailed holiday spending or will be soon. Also, 52% said a shutdown in late December would interrupt their holiday travel or annual leave.
“The pain from the record shutdown one year ago is just too fresh, and now even the mere chance of another is alarming to federal employees again this holiday season,” said NTEU President Tony Reardon. “Federal employees all over the country are terrified, again, that they will either be locked out of their jobs or forced to work without pay.”
The survey also found that 63% of respondents said frequent shutdowns are making them consider leaving their federal jobs. On a call with reporters, when asked why he thinks this number is higher than the percentage with the same response to a similar question on the Federal Employees Viewpoint Survey, released in November, Reardon said a shutdown is now “front and center” on the minds of federal employees.
Lawmakers from both parties have expressed they want to avoid another shutdown. However, as Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said on Monday, President Trump is “the wild card” in budget negotiations. “We saw what he did last time. He shut down the government.”
The Dec. 22, 2018-Jan. 25, 2019, shutdown was the longest in history and many agencies are still dealing with long-term damage. The union reported that 62% describe their morale as “low” or “very low” because of anxieties over lost productivity at work from a shutdown.
“Did we learn nothing from the last shutdown?” Reardon asked. “I thought we as a country finally recognized that middle class federal workers were innocent bystanders and they don’t deserve to suffer for someone else’s political dysfunction. NTEU calls on Congress and the administration to pass spending bills that provide federal agencies with stable, adequate resources to carry out their missions on behalf of all Americans.”
The NTEU survey ran from Dec. 6-11 and had 6,200 respondents. Reardon said this was the union’s largest survey response ever, which is “indicative of the level of anxiety” many have.