I work for a company called RedCastle Resources. We do work under contract for the U.S. Forest Service. The U.S. Forest Service is an official government agency (part of the USDA). A pending government shutdown means the USDA, and therefore U.S. Forest Service, will be closed for business. If the U.S. Forest Service is closed for business, that means RedCastle Resources is closed, too.
The news reports keep on saying “800,000 non-essential government employees will be on furlough should the government shutdown.” What they don’t quickly mention is the millions of private contractors who do work for the government. In my case, not only do we do work under contract for the government, but we do it in a federal building, meaning if a shutdown happens, they lock the front door. (Side note: I was considered an “essential” employee — even on the contract side — until last March when I took on a more management role. I handed my emergency fire mapping duties off to a colleague and now she’s the essential employee. Kinda funny, though; management is not essential because we all know who does the actual work…).
Today was a really weird day at work. We were asked to essentially close up shop before we left today. Just in case this possible shutdown 1) happens or 2) lasts longer than the weekend, we were asked to power down all electronics, take plants home, empty the fridge of any food we have stored there, and etc. We are not allowed to take our work laptops home because they are government equipment. The federal employees are being threatened with disciplinary action should they do any work while on furlough, even reading emails on their Blackberries. Really weird feeling at work today.
Not all is bad, though. RedCastle Resources offered to pay all their employees 75% of normal hours (6 hours / day) and asked us to put forth 2 hours of vacation time. That’s a screaming deal. Most companies will be like the government: “Sorry, the government is shut down, meaning they aren’t paying us to work, so we’re not paying you employees to not work.” We’ll be fine. Especially since I bet the shutdown 1) won’t happen or 2) it won’t last past the weekend.
What a mess. On one hand, I’m glad to see someone trying to act more fiscally responsible. However, at this point, it’s pure posturing and not about being responsible. One example I heard today was that let’s pretend we have a credit card with a billion dollar limit and we’ve maxed it out. The argument in Congress is basically trying to make a $100 payment to that credit card. No dent at all. Oh well. We’ll be fine and I’m actually looking forward to a few days’ break.