The federal government is back open for three weeks, as Congress and the president work on a budget deal. But the union that represents Department of Veterans’ Affairs employees, Coast Guard workers, TSA officers, and other government workers in Maine, said the crisis is not over for its members — many of whom worked without pay during the shutdown.
The government is expected to issue back pay by this coming Thursday, but until then many federal workers will still be dependent on food banks, said Gabriel Pedreira. Pedreira is a legislative and political organizer for American Federation of Government Employees members in several Northeastern states.
“Workers have still not been paid, and some of them don’t have money to buy food and so they’re still going to food banks,” Pedreira said. “Until they actually have that money deposited into their bank accounts, they don’t have it.”
Even after that pay comes through, it won’t immediately end the pain the shutdown has caused federal workers, Pedreira said.
“The damage has been done. They haven’t been paid for four weeks,” Pedreira said. “Anyone who hasn’t received pay for four weeks, they’re not just going to be whole again within 24 hours.”
The union is keeping pressure up on federal legislators to come up with a solution to pass a long-term funding plan, he said.
“Specifically, [Sen.] Susan Collins of Maine, who at least has always portrayed herself as a moderate voice,” he said, “to encourage her to try to influence leader McConnell to not play politics with this, to try and make sure we get these agencies funded for a year, not just a few weeks here and a few weeks there.”
This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.