NTEU Letter Urges Congress to Ensure Employees Won’t Lose Pay in Shutdown


4/7/11: In a letter to members of both the House and Senate, NTEU National President Colleen Kelley today called on lawmakers in Congress to ensure that federal employees will not lose pay due to a government shutdown.

In her letter, President Kelley warned that if Congress and the administration are not able to reach an agreement, up to 2 million federal employees could be furloughed. If that happens, Kelley requested that Congress “make its intention clear” to pay all furloughed employees by including such language in a fiscal 2011 appropriations bill.

While employees “excepted” from a furlough may have a right to be paid once appropriations are in place, the NTEU leader noted there is no requirement that other federal employees be paid if they are not allowed to work. She pointed to previous government shutdowns during the 1990s as evidence that Congress has not penalized federal employees for its own inaction.

“During the 1995-1996 government shutdown, Congress recognized that federal employees did not create the dilemma surrounding Congress’s inability to finish its work, and retroactively paid all federal employees,” President Kelley said in her letter. “I urge you to follow that precedent and to support a final appropriations bill that does not penalize federal employees for the inability of Congress to act in a timely manner.”

Kelley added that federal employees are eager to work to continue their missions of providing key services to everyday Americans nationwide. “Approximately 80 percent of the federal workforce delivers services to constituents outside of Washington, D.C. And they want to work,” she said.

A federal government shutdown would mean things like longer waits for taxpayer refunds, less assistance for people with disabilities, more threats to our clean air and water, weakened border security, and more.

NTEU is urging members of Congress to reach a common sense budget agreement that averts a government shutdown and allows federal employees to continue their work on behalf of the American people.