TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - While lawmakers argue about a solution to avert a second shutdown this year, workers are quietly preparing for the possibility it could come as early as Friday.
“The feeling among federal workers that we work with is not positive,” said Paul Stapleton-Smith. Chair of the Pima Area Labor Federation. “They suspect there’s a very good chance there’s going to be another shutdown.”
A 17 member bipartisan government panel has until Friday to work out a deal which will garner President Trump’s signature or face the prospect of another shutdown.
The previous one lasted a record breaking 35 days.
“We weren’t prepared, in any sense of the word, for 30 plus days of the shutdown,” he said. “So prudently we’re attempting to make this effort larger and more sustainable.”
Included in this effort is the attempt to locate and offer services to contract employees who didn’t get paid during the shutdown. It includes jobs like sanitation, housekeeping and security.
“They’re hard to reach,” he said.
But they will be offered services whether they are union members of not.
“They are part of the community,” he said.
“For people to consider us non essential and to consider us indispensable and put our families in jeopardy,” said Mary Matiella, a 34 year government veteran who went through at least a half dozen shutdowns. “It’s devastating, absolutely devastating.”
This time around, the federation is collecting rosters of the government workers who will be affected in order to get in touch with them quickly to offer services.
It has already enlisted the help of several agencies, such as the United Way and the Southern Arizona Food Bank, to help with organizational activities.
And it’s urged families to start putting together a budget plan which to carry them through the hardest days.
It’s offering help to make sure people can continue with health insurance, mortgage and child support payments.
It will provide cash cards to gas and other services.
But most importantly, it will offer food, diapers and other staples that would eat off cash quickly.
“I hope the governor is going to stay open,” Stapleton-Smith said. “Our suspicion is, it’s likely not to.”