Countdown To Shutdown: One Federal Worker's Story

Commerce Department manager describes the mood

U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., USA
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With one eye glued to C-SPAN for updates on their status, federal government workers are feverishly preparing the final work steps a total shutdown requires.

There's plenty to do before what appears will be the first full government shutdown since 1996.

AOL Jobs spoke with a senior manager in the Department of Commerce, who shared what's happening in the world of the "non-essential" employee on condition no names be used as it's bad enough being furloughed. She wouldn't want to be fired.

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First off, the government has changed the language. Now it's "excepted and non-excepted" as opposed to the apparently more offensive "essential and non-essential."

The department held a meeting last Thursday and that's where people learned their status. Basically if you're essential for life and liberty, you're on. So that's VA hospitals, people dealing with roads and bridges, federal prison workers.

This worker's entire department was not excepted and told to watch the news because once the government shuts down they are immediately forbidden from using any government-issued Blackberries or web portals to communicate.

"Most people I know live paycheck to paycheck. We don't know if we'll get paid for the time or not. Our pay raises got frozen two years ago. A lot of people in the government were furloughed over the summer. Government workers have already been taking a hit with frozen pay grades and furloughs.

"Obamacare is the law. Why are we taking the hit?"

Ironically, the workers who face furlough are also scrambling to handle the many requirements involved with possible shutdown.

Already, airfares, hotel rooms and other travel expenses have been incurred. So cancellations are being made.

"From what I understand," she added, "it's an IT mess. You have to allow some people to get paid and stop payment to others. It's a real IT challenge. Some employees are 'excepted.' Their paychecks continue to accrue. But they don't get paid either. They get an IOU."

Personally, says this Commerce employee, "I feel that they knew this was coming and it's just a partisan game where the Republicans are arguing they want to not shut the government down and then they're filibustering to avoid a vote."

Oh, and the work of Congress is "excepted," once they get to work, that is.

"The Democrats are saying they don't want to shut it down, but they didn't go to work on Sunday, then they're not coming to work until 2 p.m. today. It's very frustrating."

Blast emails are being prepared offering more guidance for people on Tuesday. Which systems will be shut off? Which will still be operational?

"I 100% blame the Republicans who are making a game out of the federal budget. They want to blame Barack Obama. And using Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, as a hostage to try to hold up the budget is outrageous. It really is," she says.

"I don't have money to pay my mortgage if I don't get paid."

Are you a government worker facing furlough? Share your story below.

Filed under: Layoffs
Laurie Petersen

Laurie Petersen

Editor-in-Chief, AOL Jobs

Laurie Petersen is an award-winning editor, writer, executive producer, investment banking researcher, balloon handler, virtual world creator, general manager, teacher, coach and entrepreneur. She's helped launch startups at CBS, The New York Times Co., iVillage, TheDeal.com, ADWEEK and MediaPost. She is a frequent speaker at conferences, colleges and high schools. Her greatest passion is helping people understand their potential and connecting those who should know each other. She lives in New Jersey with her teenage daughter. Follow her @lauriepete

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BOLD LEADERSHIP

Ho all you jive turkey's, stop your complaining! Shut of your freaking computer off, get off your lazy ass and protest. All you do is your jack'in and wack'in on line. Power to the people!!!

Said another way you are responisable for everything that happens in your life. Take action, or be part of the problem.

October 01 2013 at 10:47 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BOLD LEADERSHIP's comment
jj2301

This is my protest. Republicans are telling the President and Democrats that I never wanted Obamacare.

Thanks for the suggestion, though!

October 01 2013 at 10:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jeff

It Wealthy People in Fed Government want to get Wealther. Fed Government is only Wealthy People that want to make more money. It not their money they are spending but they are making money spending other people money.

October 01 2013 at 10:31 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
tmiller473

Bureaucrats work? Are you kidding?

October 01 2013 at 10:03 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
wterry55

Yes,,,Obamacare is the law... But it is a 100% Democratic law passed in the dead of night rather than in broad daylight like Obama said it would be. Not one! GOP member got a say in the matter, NOT ONE! THEY ARE GETTING THEIR SAY NOW!!! WTG GOP!!!!

October 01 2013 at 9:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mbtwbeach

It is clear that many of our elected officials have no empathy for what regular folk go throough on a day to day basis. It is apparent that many of the republicans do not care and are more concerned about their own political gains. In fact many republicans do not even know what the Affordable Care Act is or what it says. This party is the party of SCARE and lives on the feeding of emotions to make their crazy, illogical decisions. Who elected this whackos - and what is in the water in Texas?

October 01 2013 at 9:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
importcar5

DONT WORRY!!! THE GOVERMENT WONT LET ITS WORKERS DOWN!!!!...THEY NEED YOU TO KEEP MAKING THEM RICH!!!!!!....WHO WILL COLLECT THEIR TAXES AND SOREAD THEIR PROPAGANDA SO THEY CAN STEAL EVERY PENNY OF THE PEOPLES WEALTH!....WHO WILL TAKE THEIR PENNIES AND WORK LIKE DEVOTED DOGS WHILE THEY TAX YOU MORE AND USE YOU TO DO THE DIRTY WORK THEY HAVE BEEN PAID BILLIONS FOR!!!!....YOU!!!....THEY HAVE ENDLESS SUPPLY OF PAYOFFS TO HELP THEM RUIN YOUR FUTURE!!.......WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE IF THEY WERENT ALLOWED TO PROFIT FROM THEIR SERVICE ?....(IF YOU CALL ROBBING THE PEOPLE WHO ELECTED THEM SERVICE)....LETS FIND OUT!!!!!.....TAKE THE PROFIT OUT OF POLITICS AND ONLY THE PEOPLE WILL PROFIT!!!....BESIDES WITH 35% OF AMERICA ON THE GOV CHECK I WILL GAURENTEE ON MONDAY OCT 7T THE SHUTDOWN WILL END.....WHY?.....BECAUSE THE GOV CHECK WONT GO OUT ON THE 3DR!!!!....EVER SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU STARVE A PIT-BULLYOU HAVE FED EVERYDAY TO PROTECT YOUR INTREST?.....THE DOG SEES YOU AS THE MEAL REAL QUICK!!!!....AS SOON AS THE HOOD DIALS DC ITS ALL OVER!!!

October 01 2013 at 9:56 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
RVILLAVO

The dregs of society,white, black or other, people of a certain religion & certain sexual variations,in other words democrats are upset that we don't like things forced on the rest of normal voters. This country has been going down since the 60's. CASE IN POINT:Women in her late 20's goes to the ER a & telss the DR its her 8th pregnancy & says "I'm the breadwinner of my family, that she gets $$$ from making babies,heres how it goes:
The grandma tells Dept. of Family Services grand-daughter is unemployed & not capable of caring for kids,DCFS agrees & says kids have to go into foster care,grandma volenteers to be foster parent & gets $1,500. PER CHILD each month in Illinois, total income-$144,000 tax free & no one has to work. In fact they get more if there is no husband/father/man in the home! Plus free healthcare (medicaid) monthly card for free groceries & a voucher for 250 free minutes on taxpayer supplied Obamaphones.This doesn't include WIC & other freebies they're getting.This is what the "Great Society architects of the 60's forgot to craft, an end date for this abuse. Well, its no wonder Islamic countries are are mandating that each Muslim family have 11 kids a so our voting system in 25 years or less will have a new voting bloc and S'Ria will be the law of the land. Be careful what you wish for, you may get it.

October 01 2013 at 9:56 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
john

Most Gov workers are over paid anyway. What they are afraid of is the gov will work just as well with out them.

October 01 2013 at 9:54 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to john's comment
fifiwereking

do your research... in a head to head salary comparison of a job in the private sector with one in the public sector, public employees make considerably LESS than their private counterparts...

October 01 2013 at 2:13 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to fifiwereking's comment
jj2301

He said "overpaid", not "paid more than". It's more a question of their value proposition than their pay relative to other segments of society.

IMO, they're afraid nobody's going to miss them.

October 01 2013 at 2:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
Mark

you liberals Obama and Harry reed have not a budget in 4 years the last budget that was passed was G. Bush. impeach Obama for not doing his job. unless playing golf and going on expensive vacation all the time is work.

October 01 2013 at 9:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
psnyder62546

I had to agree with your first sentences. Our government sucks including Obama. You forgot that part.
We need all new leaders including the president. The middle class has no chance at all, especially when Obama care kicks in. Ii hope everybody is prepared.

October 01 2013 at 9:49 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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