Partial Government Shutdown Becomes Longest in History, Enters ‘Uncharted Territory’

Jeff Estes has worked as a federal contractor for 35 years in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Now he and his colleagues are out of work because of a partial government shutdown that as of Saturday became the longest in American history.

For Estes, a union official and electrician, the shutdown is becoming particularly burdensome because he’s paying for his two kids to attend college, and the government’s recent decision to change contractors forced him and his coworkers to reapply for their jobs.

With much of the government at a standstill, Estes and his colleagues — members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers — aren’t sure whether they will still have a job when it’s over, he said. Those in a position to know are furloughed, leaving Estes and many others more than frustrated as the government shutdown enters its 22nd day on Saturday.

“It’s not a D problem. It’s not an R problem. It’s Washington, D.C., the Beltway,” Estes told NBC News. “People in America and the workforce should not be used as pawns. Deal with your business without putting me out of the job. Do your job, and I’ll keep doing mine.”

Approximately 800,000 federal employees are estimated to be furloughed or working without pay because President Donald Trump and Congress cannot reach a deal to reopen the government. They are at an impasse over $5.7 billion for construction of a wall along the southern border.

The number of furloughed employees does not include federal contractors like Estes. It’s unclear how many contract or grant employees are affected by the shutdown — or even how many there are in total — but a Volcker Alliance report estimated that nearly 5.3 million worked as contractors in 2015.

Unlike furloughed federal employees, who have received assurances that they will be paid once the shutdown ends, contractors are not owed back pay. That has left them in an even murkier economic position.

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SOURCE: Phil McCausland
NBC News