Government employees grow nervous as a second shutdown looms

Government employees are nervous as another federal government shutdown looms overhead on Friday, February 15th.

“You know the anxiety of the entire situation and the rhetoric that’s still being tossed back and forth between both parties shows us that we’re not looking favorable to not shut down again,” said Doug Lowe, the local president of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, a union that represents aviation safety inspectors.

Lowe works at the air traffic control tower at Orlando International Airport. He said he worked through the first partial government shutdown which lasted 35 days and has only received partial back-pay.

“We’re not going to get the rest of those partial checks such as the overtime that we worked and the night differential and the special pays… until the 26th of February.” 

He said many government employees are facing the same situation and if the government shuts down again they risk not getting the rest of their back-pay before it happens.

“We’re caught in the middle and it’s killing us,” Lowe said. “A lot of hurt and pain was inflicted on people who have nothing to do with this fight.” 

Lowe took his concerns to Washington, D.C. this week. He said U.S. Representative Darren Soto (D-9th District) invited him to the State of the Union so he could meet with lawmakers.

Lowe said his goal was to share stories about how the first government shutdown impacted some of the 800,000 federal government employees, including himself and his co-workers. “Somebody who goes to work every day and does their job diligently shouldn’t have to apply for food assistance, that’s just a disgrace,” Lowe said.

He said his family is preparing for the worst-case scenario if the government shuts down again. “The partial repayments that we got and any other payment that we get prior to a shutdown is just staying in the bank.”

Lowe is hoping lawmakers can put aside their differences and compromise to keep the government open. He said, “We don’t need another shutdown. We need to avoid it at all cost and give these people time to heal after the last one.”

Congress has until February 15th to avoid another shutdown.