Author Topic: Fed employees - shutdown stories  (Read 26143 times)

kimmarg

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Fed employees - shutdown stories
« on: December 29, 2018, 06:21:05 PM »
Any US Federal Employees on here affected by the shutdown? My agency is unfunded but I'm essential/excepted/whatever-they-call-it-today and have to work anyways.  Wide range of attitudes in my office basically depending on savings. I truly feel bad for the brand new GS-07 who just payed to move cross country with a spouse and small kid and can't afford to miss a check. I'm eye-rolling at the GS-13 who've been around a while who don't seem to have enough savings to get through it.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2018, 06:41:37 PM »
I grew up in the DC area, and you could always tell how long someone had been a Fed based on how they reacted during the shutdowns. The newbies tend to worry about their jobs going away/getting paid while the old foggies were more concerned about finding a vacation spot close enough so that they could be back within the required ~5 hours when the shutdown ended.

sol

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2018, 07:02:52 PM »
For my former coworkers, the lack of a paycheck during the furlough is less upsetting than getting ANOTHER zero percent pay raise for 2019.

But pretty soon, the complaints will shift to the lack of work getting done.  You can sit out a week or two over the holidays without ruining too much, but past January 3rd they'll start falling behind on actual project deadlines.  Reinstating federal funds eventually does not fix their existing contracts with cooperators and funding partners, all of which stipulate that a specific product will be delivered on a specific date regardless of whether or not Congress gets its act together.  If they're not allowed to work, they're all going to fail to fulfill their contracts on time.

kendallf

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2018, 07:43:13 PM »
I'm a DOD civilian, and we're funded and working next week.  The shutdowns in general do not help my attitude, but I have savings and I'd be OK even if furloughed as we have been in the past.  As Sol says, I'm more pissed off by the big middle finger of 0% raise after a huge corporate tax cut.   My salary has declined in real terms (inflation adjusted dollars) over the past 10 years, especially as I am at the end of the "steps" within pay grade and the only raise I get is the annual increase (or not).

waffles

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2018, 08:13:20 PM »
I am an essential employee too, and despite the furlough work is the same as usual (air traffic control). In fact work called me to solicit overtime today.

I will be fine...I'm planning on retiring in about six months, and I have FU money. I really feel for the newer hires/trainees though, as this is a HCOL area and they will have a harder time. We have just gotten our last paycheck for work through Dec.22, and will not be paid again until the furlough is over. The local credit union is offering some no/low interest loans for those who need it. I think it is no interest up to $5000 but I haven't really looked.

I haven't heard a lot of discussion about the furlough at work but I suspect the topic will be coming up more now.

DreamFIRE

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2018, 08:14:32 PM »
The newbies tend to worry about their jobs going away/getting paid while the old foggies were more concerned about finding a vacation spot close enough so that they could be back within the required ~5 hours when the shutdown ended.

Yeah, and they are happy to know they will almost certainly get backpay for this extra time off on the taxpayer dime.  What a sweet deal.

remizidae

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2018, 08:16:48 PM »
For my former coworkers, the lack of a paycheck during the furlough is less upsetting than getting ANOTHER zero percent pay raise for 2019.

Another? We got 2.1% in 2017 and 1.9% in 2018.

sol

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2018, 08:26:51 PM »
Yeah, and they are happy to know they will almost certainly get backpay for this extra time off on the taxpayer dime.  What a sweet deal.

You think they're happy that they'll get paid late instead of on time?  Are they also happy that they don't get to do their jobs?

Remember that these are civil servants we're talking about.  They have literally devoted their entire careers to serving others, including you.  They do want to do their jobs.

wordnerd

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2018, 08:34:43 PM »
For my former coworkers, the lack of a paycheck during the furlough is less upsetting than getting ANOTHER zero percent pay raise for 2019.

Another? We got 2.1% in 2017 and 1.9% in 2018.

There were a bunch of 0% years during the Obama Administration/Great Recession. I don't remember how many now. Over time, it adds up.

As a former fed, I went through two shutdowns...I got back pay both time and wasn't worried about paying bills, even if I didn't (most of my co-workers were the same--scientific agency where the median grade was a 12 or a 13), but it is pretty annoying. Everything has to be canceled and restarted. You can't make plans. We also had to cancel a bunch of travel/conferences for almost shutdowns, where funding came at the 11th hour, because you don't want people stranded in Omaha if Congress doesn't come through. It's an appalling way to run an organization.

waffles

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2018, 08:50:12 PM »
Thanks, Sol. I hate to see the trope of lazy overpaid underworked Federal employees show up here.  Granted I only see my personal workplace but the vast majority of my coworkers have excellent work ethics and truly earn their pay. It follows though that I can't even imagine actually being furloughed and maybe not getting paid.

sol

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2018, 08:50:43 PM »
For my former coworkers, the lack of a paycheck during the furlough is less upsetting than getting ANOTHER zero percent pay raise for 2019.

Another? We got 2.1% in 2017 and 1.9% in 2018.

Are you TSA or something that's not on the general schedule?  Because the general schedule pay raise was 1.4% in 2018 and 1.0% in 2017.  Also only 1.0% for the three years before that, and 0.0% for the three years before that.  https://www.federalpay.org/gs/raises has details.

Kendallf is right, federal employees have been losing out to inflation since 2010.

edit:  nevermind, I figured it out:  you're military.  You're right, the military has been given decent pay raises consistently for decades now.  The civil service, not so much.  https://www.federalpay.org/military/raises
« Last Edit: December 29, 2018, 08:53:08 PM by sol »

maizeman

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2018, 09:19:13 PM »
As a former fed, I went through two shutdowns...I got back pay both time and wasn't worried about paying bills, even if I didn't (most of my co-workers were the same--scientific agency where the median grade was a 12 or a 13), but it is pretty annoying. Everything has to be canceled and restarted. You can't make plans. We also had to cancel a bunch of travel/conferences for almost shutdowns, where funding came at the 11th hour, because you don't want people stranded in Omaha if Congress doesn't come through. It's an appalling way to run an organization.

After the '13 shutdown a non-trivial number people I know and respect made the jump from working directly for a federal agency I apply for funding from to working for some of the universities funded by the same agency. Even going from "guaranteed" federal funding to needing to survive off competitive grants the ones I'm still in touch with seem noticeably happier now.

wordnerd

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2018, 09:40:59 PM »
As a former fed, I went through two shutdowns...I got back pay both time and wasn't worried about paying bills, even if I didn't (most of my co-workers were the same--scientific agency where the median grade was a 12 or a 13), but it is pretty annoying. Everything has to be canceled and restarted. You can't make plans. We also had to cancel a bunch of travel/conferences for almost shutdowns, where funding came at the 11th hour, because you don't want people stranded in Omaha if Congress doesn't come through. It's an appalling way to run an organization.

After the '13 shutdown a non-trivial number people I know and respect made the jump from working directly for a federal agency I apply for funding from to working for some of the universities funded by the same agency. Even going from "guaranteed" federal funding to needing to survive off competitive grants the ones I'm still in touch with seem noticeably happier now.
I can see that. If I go back to work, I would vastly prefer to be at the grantee-level, though I know it comes with a lot of challenges of its own.

Travis

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2018, 10:22:23 PM »
The newbies tend to worry about their jobs going away/getting paid while the old foggies were more concerned about finding a vacation spot close enough so that they could be back within the required ~5 hours when the shutdown ended.

Yeah, and they are happy to know they will almost certainly get backpay for this extra time off on the taxpayer dime.  What a sweet deal.

This shutdown isn't affecting the DoD this time around, but a number of my civil service employees must come in to work regardless when it does.  Their complaint is that they're working for an IOU while the non-critical employees are getting a free day or more of leave.

That being said, none of them are happy that for the last few years the timeliness of their paychecks have been at the whim of a handful of whiny politicians who have nothing at stake during these shutdowns. 

I'm in a similar boat as Sol with regards to workload.  Where I work our productivity is quantifiable on a daily basis that has a long-term effect on national security.  If we're not at full strength, then a can gets kicked down the road that we have difficulty recovering from.  Since the DoD is exempt this time, my contractors will continue to work.  When they get included in our shutdowns, our work almost grinds to a halt.  Imagine if a farmer had to stop harvesting midday to drive his own crops to market because the truckers didn't show up. That's the effect on my organization during these shutdowns.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2018, 01:08:24 AM »
This is absolute madness from an outsider point of view. I can't imagine many kiwi staff would work for nothing. Mind you, I can't actually imagine our gov shutting down. If it did, though, I guarantee it would be treated as BBQ days. No one would be at work.

NykkiC

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2018, 03:38:48 AM »
This is absolute madness from an outsider point of view. I can't imagine many kiwi staff would work for nothing. Mind you, I can't actually imagine our gov shutting down. If it did, though, I guarantee it would be treated as BBQ days. No one would be at work.

As a former Aussie public servant, I remain equally baffled - especially for the people who are told they still need to come in. I mean, work is getting paid to do something you wouldn’t otherwise do. If I’m not getting paid*, then why would any employer think they could demand I work anyway? I certainly wouldn’t be, not unless they have a legal order conscripting me to work for free.

*here meaning a guaranteed payment in a timely manner and as per the conditions under which I accepted my job

kimmarg

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2018, 04:10:34 AM »
It's just a mess. Sometimes I have no idea why I'm working for 'free' (although I guess if they can get it together before the next paycheck cuts I technically won't be) I'm guessing the furloughed folks will get backpay and a free vacation but honestly that just makes the essential folks working through it even more annoyed. Tons of stuff is getting rearranged from conferences to meetings and projects.   Oh and there's no paid leave anymore for essential employees (and of course just a few people had plans over the holidays). Thankfully they were able to give us the choice between furlough for the days planned as vacation or coming back to work but it just rubs you the wrong way. The holiday schedule was set in September. If we can plan whos working months out can't congress plan how they're paying us?

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2018, 04:14:13 AM »
This is absolute madness from an outsider point of view. I can't imagine many kiwi staff would work for nothing. Mind you, I can't actually imagine our gov shutting down. If it did, though, I guarantee it would be treated as BBQ days. No one would be at work.

As a former Aussie public servant, I remain equally baffled - especially for the people who are told they still need to come in. I mean, work is getting paid to do something you wouldn’t otherwise do. If I’m not getting paid*, then why would any employer think they could demand I work anyway? I certainly wouldn’t be, not unless they have a legal order conscripting me to work for free.

*here meaning a guaranteed payment in a timely manner and as per the conditions under which I accepted my job

US federal employees who don't show up to work when they are ordered to are considered AWOL, regardless of whether they are getting paid or not.  That's a punishable offense, and could lead to loss of their jobs.  They will get paid eventually, whenever Congress finally gets its act together and passes a budget.

I'm happy to be FIREd now and not have to deal with shutdown drama any more.  When I was a fed, the only lengthy shutdown that I experienced was the one in 2013.  I was deemed non-essential and was furloughed for the duration.  It was anxiety-inducing at the time, because you never know for sure if Congress is going to approve back pay.  I was not in danger of running out of money, but if I had lost that income, it would have put a dent in my savings for the year.  As it turned out, it became an extra two weeks of paid time off.  Which didn't benefit me any, because the shutdown occurred late enough in the year that I was not able to use all of the normal leave that I had saved during the shutdown, so I ended up donating a bunch of my leave.  Net effect, I was forced to take leave when Congress wanted me to take it instead of when I chose to take it.

sol

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2018, 07:02:22 AM »
Net effect, I was forced to take leave when Congress wanted me to take it instead of when I chose to take it.

I have a hard time thinking of it as leave anyway.  Is not like you can go anywhere.  You have to be ready to show up back at work on 24 hours of notice, so you can't leave town.  It's more like a forced staycation.

BTDretire

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2018, 07:30:31 AM »
Yeah, and they are happy to know they will almost certainly get backpay for this extra time off on the taxpayer dime.  What a sweet deal.

You think they're happy that they'll get paid late instead of on time?  Are they also happy that they don't get to do their jobs?

Remember that these are civil servants we're talking about.  They have literally devoted their entire careers to serving others, including you.  They do want to do their jobs.
Yes, it is very stupid to say they can't work because there is no money, and then pay them for not working.
Sounds like government!
 The only effect on me so far is an internet radio station I listen to (Science 360) is shut down, as it is funded by the National Science Foundation. I would give up that and more to get a wall built.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #20 on: December 30, 2018, 07:30:51 AM »
This is quoted from my journal, which pretty much sums up my tale of the shutdown. I'm active duty USCG.

From the New York Times. How're you doing, my Coast Guard internet friend?

I believe that the leaders of the American nation are worth less than a wet fart in a muppet sack. That their collective balls have crawled so far up their vital cavities even a good skinning knife would have a hard time rediscovering them. That they have willingly parted their coat tails for the sole purpose of exposing their entry point for a despot to meat puppet them.  And that if a single on of them gets on TV discussing the inconvenience and uncertainty currently being endured by my family, I will bar my teeth and latch onto their ball-free femoral artery until I can dance in the lake of their spreading gore and howl like I personally own the wild hunt.

Mattis was the only adult between insanity and the launch codes. The rest of them are jug eared, donkey dicked, sway back, knacker-assed, pissfucking, jizz suckers. Let's, for a simple change, bend THEM over the table until their sensibilities are dripping with the alpha load of cum they usually like to pump into their beta's, sorry, constituent's asses.

sol

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #21 on: December 30, 2018, 08:09:52 AM »
I would give up that and more to get a wall built.

Why do you want a wall?  Is it just as a symbol?

Because I don't see much other utility in a wall.  It doesn't keep people out. It doesn't discourage them from trying to come here.  It doesn't help catch and deport them.  It doesn't penalize the people who hire them.  It's a monumental waste of money that could instead be used to actually secure the border.

This is quoted from my journal, which pretty much sums up my tale of the shutdown. I'm active duty USCG.

I'm glad to see that the USCG is still teaching colorful profanity.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2018, 08:15:10 AM by sol »

DreamFIRE

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #22 on: December 30, 2018, 08:19:08 AM »
Yeah, and they are happy to know they will almost certainly get backpay for this extra time off on the taxpayer dime.  What a sweet deal.

You think they're happy that they'll get paid late instead of on time?  Are they also happy that they don't get to do their jobs?

Remember that these are civil servants we're talking about.  They have literally devoted their entire careers to serving others, including you.  They do want to do their jobs.

LOL.  PLLLEEAAASSEEE.....  Yeah, I can really tell from the ones I know that they are heartbroken for the extra paid-for vacation.  Give me a break.

Yes, it is very stupid to say they can't work because there is no money, and then pay them for not working.
Sounds like government!

Exactly!  That definitely wouldn't happen where I work in the private sector!   That's the government for you.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2018, 08:41:52 AM by DreamFIRE »

wenchsenior

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #23 on: December 30, 2018, 08:22:06 AM »
As always in these shutdowns, DH is working from home (officially he isn't supposed to) so he doesn't fall behind on work.  And I just got an email notice in my inbox that could only have been generated by another furloughed fed we know, who is obviously doing the same.  Lazy, my ass.  And this 0% COL raise during a strong economy is even more insulting.

Had DH traveled to see friends or family during the holiday as part of taking official leave (vacation), the furlough would have reset his status so that the leave was null and void, and he would have had to race home so as to be at his duty station, where he would then officially be forbidden from working (though he would have ignored that, as always).

Good thing we didn't happen to be traveling this year over the holidays. Just consider how fucked up this situation is.  'MURICA!


DreamFIRE

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #24 on: December 30, 2018, 08:25:13 AM »
I would give up that and more to get a wall built.

^This

Agreed!  The wall is LONG overdue.  Americans voted for Trump, and the wall was a HUGE point of his campaign.

The cost of a wall is peanuts compared to the estimated $10 TRILLION dollar cost of illegal immigration.

The liberal talking point is that the wall isn't the only solution and doesn't solve all of the problems.  It's not supposed to.  Those other things are also important as well, but they don't negate the necessity for the wall.  I would gladly pay more taxes to build the wall and increase border security, enforce existing immigration law, and stepping up efforts to deport illegals.  It sure beats the astronomical cost of illegal aliens over the long term who suck much more out of the system than they even begin to contribute (as shown by the Heritage study.)

https://www.heritage.org/immigration/report/the-fiscal-cost-unlawful-immigrants-and-amnesty-the-us-taxpayer
« Last Edit: December 30, 2018, 08:29:51 AM by DreamFIRE »

wenchsenior

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #25 on: December 30, 2018, 08:25:18 AM »
This is quoted from my journal, which pretty much sums up my tale of the shutdown. I'm active duty USCG.

From the New York Times. How're you doing, my Coast Guard internet friend?

I believe that the leaders of the American nation are worth less than a wet fart in a muppet sack. That their collective balls have crawled so far up their vital cavities even a good skinning knife would have a hard time rediscovering them. That they have willingly parted their coat tails for the sole purpose of exposing their entry point for a despot to meat puppet them.  And that if a single on of them gets on TV discussing the inconvenience and uncertainty currently being endured by my family, I will bar my teeth and latch onto their ball-free femoral artery until I can dance in the lake of their spreading gore and howl like I personally own the wild hunt.

Mattis was the only adult between insanity and the launch codes. The rest of them are jug eared, donkey dicked, sway back, knacker-assed, pissfucking, jizz suckers. Let's, for a simple change, bend THEM over the table until their sensibilities are dripping with the alpha load of cum they usually like to pump into their beta's, sorry, constituent's asses.

That is so beautiful. :wipes tear:

DreamFIRE

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #26 on: December 30, 2018, 08:34:17 AM »
There were a bunch of 0% years during the Obama Administration/Great Recession. I don't remember how many now. Over time, it adds up.

Yeah, instead of giving no pay increases for existing workers, I would like to see something done to cut those generous government pensions for existing retirees paid for on the taxpayer dime.

Being ex-military myself,  it's good to see the military will get an increase this year.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #27 on: December 30, 2018, 08:39:02 AM »
There were a bunch of 0% years during the Obama Administration/Great Recession. I don't remember how many now. Over time, it adds up.

Yeah, instead of giving no pay increases for existing workers, I would like to see something done to cut those generous government pensions for existing retirees paid for on the taxpayer dime.

Being ex-military myself,  it's good to see the military will get an increase this year.

Remember, everyone. DreamFIRE is essentially a toddler having a tantrum. Rationality and compassion have flown, and the only emotional resource he has left is to lay on the ground and scream. Best not to engage.

sol

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #28 on: December 30, 2018, 08:41:43 AM »
If I go back to work, I would vastly prefer to be at the grantee-level, though I know it comes with a lot of challenges of its own.

I have worked as all of the above.  As a graduate student I was funded by a competitive NSF grant.  Then I went to work for a federal science agency in a "soft money" position in which I had to find the funding to support myself and my team.  Then I was a hard-funded scientists with a direct congressional allocation.

I thought that the move to being hard-funded would be an improvement, but I was sorely mistaken.  Scientists with directly allocated funding still compete for funds, they just compete in a different environment, against other hard-funded scientist who are also after a slice of that finite pie.  Soft money scientists have far more freedom to receive funding from a wider variety of sources, and thus have much more control over what they do and how they do it.  They're not required to fit into an existing federal funding pipeline, with an overly specific mandate, that already feeds a tank full of other hungry sharks.  The amount of politics and bickering and backstabbing and power struggles that I had to endure as a hard-funded scientist absolutely blew me away, and after about three years I gave it up to go back to finding my own funding. 

I never had trouble finding money to do the work I wanted to do, because the work I wanted to do was work that I felt was useful and helpful to people, which coincidentally also meant there were lots of people willing to pay for it.  I had more money, more autonomy, more people working for me, and more publications as a self-funded competitive scientist than I ever had in my hard money position.  I got to write one proposal to fund up to four years of work at a time, instead of enduring an annual budget allocation deathmatch against an ever-changing roster of opponents who would try to discredit my work to make their own look better. 

One difference that I did notice in my time as a fed was that the hard-funded scientists were much more likely to work through shutdowns or appropriations lapses, in direct violation of their directives.  They were typically people for whom the work was its own reward, and they recognized that the competitive nature of their funding environment didn't allow any time off, because they would fall behind their peers who continued to work.  They didn't take vacations, either.  Raging assholes, in my experience.  Science is supposed to be a cooperative endeavor to advance our collective knowledge, not a cutthroat conflict between practitioners.

DreamFIRE

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #29 on: December 30, 2018, 08:43:42 AM »
There were a bunch of 0% years during the Obama Administration/Great Recession. I don't remember how many now. Over time, it adds up.

Yeah, instead of giving no pay increases for existing workers, I would like to see something done to cut those generous government pensions for existing retirees paid for on the taxpayer dime.

Being ex-military myself,  it's good to see the military will get an increase this year.

Remember, everyone. DreamFIRE is essentially a toddler having a tantrum. Rationality and compassion have flown, and the only emotional resource he has left is to lay on the ground and scream. Best not to engage.

@Sailor Sam  Troll lately?  No need to answer.  LOL
« Last Edit: December 30, 2018, 08:46:37 AM by DreamFIRE »

sol

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #30 on: December 30, 2018, 08:50:44 AM »
I can really tell from the ones I know that they are heartbroken for the extra paid-for vacation.  Give me a break.

It's not extra vacation for the ~40% of federal civilian employees who take use-or-lose annual leave over the christmas holiday season.  Those people were going to be on vacation anyway, and they don't get their time back.  The only difference for them is that they'll have their paychecks delayed.

Yeah, instead of giving no pay increases for existing workers, I would like to see something done to cut those generous government pensions for existing retirees paid for on the taxpayer dime.

I'm sure you're aware that federal pensions have already been cut twice in recent years, both increasing the employee contribution and cutting the employee benefit. 

Remember, everyone. DreamFIRE is essentially a toddler having a tantrum. Rationality and compassion have flown, and the only emotional resource he has left is to lay on the ground and scream. Best not to engage.

DreamFIRE used to be a rational and helpful forum member, who constructively engaged in a variety of topics.  I'm not entirely sure what's happened, but the new version is significantly less human.

wordnerd

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #31 on: December 30, 2018, 08:54:44 AM »
There were a bunch of 0% years during the Obama Administration/Great Recession. I don't remember how many now. Over time, it adds up.

Yeah, instead of giving no pay increases for existing workers, I would like to see something done to cut those generous government pensions for existing retirees paid for on the taxpayer dime.

Being ex-military myself,  it's good to see the military will get an increase this year.

Remember, everyone. DreamFIRE is essentially a toddler having a tantrum. Rationality and compassion have flown, and the only emotional resource he has left is to lay on the ground and scream. Best not to engage.
Good reminder. I deleted what I had written. It's kinda of astonishing to me that any US citizen, much less a former member of the military, would want the government to be in the business of reneging on its promises.
ETA: I read it as him want to cut funding for current retirees. If he means future retirees, that's already happened, as sol mentions.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2018, 09:10:27 AM by wordnerd »

Fomerly known as something

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #32 on: December 30, 2018, 09:02:08 AM »
Any US Federal Employees on here affected by the shutdown? My agency is unfunded but I'm essential/excepted/whatever-they-call-it-today and have to work anyways.  Wide range of attitudes in my office basically depending on savings. I truly feel bad for the brand new GS-07 who just payed to move cross country with a spouse and small kid and can't afford to miss a check. I'm eye-rolling at the GS-13 who've been around a while who don't seem to have enough savings to get through it.

Do we work for the same agency?

I'm also in the guess what go into work category of whatever they call it.  I'm annoyed.  If it goes into missing a paycheck I'll need to cancel automatic transfers from checking into savings/investments and what not.  No one in my immediate office will be hurt by a moderately long shutdown.  Well except for maybe the guy who is eligible to retire and does stupid things with his money.

ETA:  The building I work out of is mostly exempt employees, we all have decidedly happy faces as we pass each other in the halls.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2018, 09:20:19 AM by Fomerly known as something »

wordnerd

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #33 on: December 30, 2018, 09:06:40 AM »
If I go back to work, I would vastly prefer to be at the grantee-level, though I know it comes with a lot of challenges of its own.

I have worked as all of the above.  As a graduate student I was funded by a competitive NSF grant.  Then I went to work for a federal science agency in a "soft money" position in which I had to find the funding to support myself and my team.  Then I was a hard-funded scientists with a direct congressional allocation.

I thought that the move to being hard-funded would be an improvement, but I was sorely mistaken.  Scientists with directly allocated funding still compete for funds, they just compete in a different environment, against other hard-funded scientist who are also after a slice of that finite pie.  Soft money scientists have far more freedom to receive funding from a wider variety of sources, and thus have much more control over what they do and how they do it.  They're not required to fit into an existing federal funding pipeline, with an overly specific mandate, that already feeds a tank full of other hungry sharks.  The amount of politics and bickering and backstabbing and power struggles that I had to endure as a hard-funded scientist absolutely blew me away, and after about three years I gave it up to go back to finding my own funding. 

I never had trouble finding money to do the work I wanted to do, because the work I wanted to do was work that I felt was useful and helpful to people, which coincidentally also meant there were lots of people willing to pay for it.  I had more money, more autonomy, more people working for me, and more publications as a self-funded competitive scientist than I ever had in my hard money position.  I got to write one proposal to fund up to four years of work at a time, instead of enduring an annual budget allocation deathmatch against an ever-changing roster of opponents who would try to discredit my work to make their own look better. 

One difference that I did notice in my time as a fed was that the hard-funded scientists were much more likely to work through shutdowns or appropriations lapses, in direct violation of their directives.  They were typically people for whom the work was its own reward, and they recognized that the competitive nature of their funding environment didn't allow any time off, because they would fall behind their peers who continued to work.  They didn't take vacations, either.  Raging assholes, in my experience.  Science is supposed to be a cooperative endeavor to advance our collective knowledge, not a cutthroat conflict between practitioners.

This aligns with experience with hard-funded scientists as well. My sub-unit at the agency had a convoluted annual review process where scientists had to compete for funding for the next year by Congress line item (of which we had a ton, so less flexibility in what could be funded), and, my lord, you could cut the tension in the room.

Then, there's the fun times when Congressional offices call and ask what their money is being spent on and why they don't have results yet. And, you have to explain how science works, and they basically say they don't care because they need some "success story" to crow about. The joys of federal employment.

spartana

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #34 on: December 30, 2018, 09:25:49 AM »
This is absolute madness from an outsider point of view. I can't imagine many kiwi staff would work for nothing. Mind you, I can't actually imagine our gov shutting down. If it did, though, I guarantee it would be treated as BBQ days. No one would be at work.

As a former Aussie public servant, I remain equally baffled - especially for the people who are told they still need to come in. I mean, work is getting paid to do something you wouldn’t otherwise do. If I’m not getting paid*, then why would any employer think they could demand I work anyway? I certainly wouldn’t be, not unless they have a legal order conscripting me to work for free.

*here meaning a guaranteed payment in a timely manner and as per the conditions under which I accepted my job
A lot of the jobs are considered "essential" and it would be dangerous for the public if they shutdown. Think Air Traffic Controllers, Federal prison guards and other law enforcement fields, federal medical facilities, first responders, etc. I was in the Coast Guard and went thru a few short term shutdowns and had to continue working with no pay. It was a PITA but pay was retroactive...eventually. The longest shutdown I can remember was about a month in the mid-1990s. Most others have been short lived.

BTDretire

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #35 on: December 30, 2018, 09:27:37 AM »
I would give up that and more to get a wall built.

Why do you want a wall?  Is it just as a symbol?
We can start with it as a symbol, it says we are serious enough about you coming in legally that we put up a wall so you can't come in Illegally.
 I'm not sure why you think a wall won't stop a large percentage of those trying to enter illegally. There is evidence that the wall in Israel (Gaza) was had a significant effect on illegal entry. Why do rich people build walls around their homes? No need to answer, bcause it keeps people out.
 I may do it different though, I'd have a 40ft chainlink fence, 100ft of razor wire, then another 40ft wall. Then I would have an area where tunnel searches could be made on a regular basis.
 

Because I don't see much other utility in a wall.  It doesn't keep people out. It doesn't discourage them from trying to come here.  It doesn't help catch and deport them.  It doesn't penalize the people who hire them.[/quote]
 I'm all for penalizing people that hire illegals.
Quote
  It's a monumental waste of money that could instead be used to actually secure the border.
Quote
We just disagree.

This is quoted from my journal, which pretty much sums up my tale of the shutdown. I'm active duty USCG.

I'm glad to see that the USCG is still teaching colorful profanity.

DreamFIRE

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #36 on: December 30, 2018, 09:48:51 AM »
Yeah, instead of giving no pay increases for existing workers, I would like to see something done to cut those generous government pensions for existing retirees paid for on the taxpayer dime.

I'm sure you're aware that federal pensions have already been cut twice in recent years, both increasing the employee contribution and cutting the employee benefit. 

That's why I specifically said "existing" retirees in my comment and also stated "generous".

ETA: I read it as him want to cut funding for current retirees. If he means future retirees, that's already happened, as sol mentions.

My comment specifically said "existing" retirees, so I'm not sure why you would say "if he means future retirees".

DreamFIRE

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #37 on: December 30, 2018, 09:56:40 AM »
I can really tell from the ones I know that they are heartbroken for the extra paid-for vacation.  Give me a break.

It's not extra vacation for the ~40% of federal civilian employees who take use-or-lose annual leave over the christmas holiday season.  Those people were going to be on vacation anyway, and they don't get their time back.  The only difference for them is that they'll have their paychecks delayed.

There are always some exceptions, such as for the people that still have to work and the government contractors affected.  But I know some federal workers that are getting extra time off and will be paid later.  Since they aren't living paycheck to paycheck, the delay in pay isn't a big deal.  And I'm not suggesting anyone using their benefit time for part of the shutdown period shouldn't receive pay for those days they were actually using benefit time (not for the full shutdown if it runs for weeks, though).

DreamFIRE

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #38 on: December 30, 2018, 09:58:42 AM »
I was in the Coast Guard and went thru a few short term shutdowns and had to continue working with no pay. It was a PITA but pay was retroactive...eventually.

Yep, you continued to work, so there's no question that you should have been paid during the shutdown, even if retroactive.

wordnerd

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #39 on: December 30, 2018, 10:10:22 AM »
I was in the Coast Guard and went thru a few short term shutdowns and had to continue working with no pay. It was a PITA but pay was retroactive...eventually.

Yep, you continued to work, so there's no question that you should have been paid during the shutdown, even if retroactive.
But that's not the law. The law in question is the Anti-deficiencies Act, which states that no obligations for payment can be made during a lapse in appropriations. That includes for paying essential employees. Now Congress has always retroactively paid essential employees, but it's not guaranteed because the government can't make that obligation during a shutdown.


Fomerly known as something

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #41 on: December 30, 2018, 11:09:48 AM »
Speaking of retiree's.  I have several former officemates who are suppose to retire tomorrow.  I wonder how that works in a shutdown.

Fomerly known as something

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #42 on: December 30, 2018, 11:13:06 AM »
Yeah, instead of giving no pay increases for existing workers, I would like to see something done to cut those generous government pensions for existing retirees paid for on the taxpayer dime.

I'm sure you're aware that federal pensions have already been cut twice in recent years, both increasing the employee contribution and cutting the employee benefit. 

That's why I specifically said "existing" retirees in my comment and also stated "generous".

ETA: I read it as him want to cut funding for current retirees. If he means future retirees, that's already happened, as sol mentions.

My comment specifically said "existing" retirees, so I'm not sure why you would say "if he means future retirees".

Exactly what existing retiree's?  Just curious who you have your beef with and why?

DeniseNJ

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #43 on: December 30, 2018, 12:03:48 PM »
The news tends to put it as the millions billions dollars the shut down is costing. Remember that salaries were going to be paid so it's not extra money being tossed away. And the work doesn't disappear when someone is not at work, they just have to catch up when we reopen. Calls that don't come in during a shutdown will flood in after. Letters that didn't get answered will still have to be when we reopen. Work you aren't there to do will sit until you come back in and catch up. If the place is shut down nobody is there to cover for you so you will be working hard to catch up. Getting paid for your so called time off retroactively seems appropriate. My agency was funded for the year during the last CR so we're open this time. But being furloughed is not at all like having paid time off.

weirdlair

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #44 on: December 30, 2018, 12:44:33 PM »
I would give up that and more to get a wall built.

^This

Agreed!  The wall is LONG overdue.  Americans voted for Trump, and the wall was a HUGE point of his campaign.

The cost of a wall is peanuts compared to the estimated $10 TRILLION dollar cost of illegal immigration.


Most Americans did NOT vote for Trump. He won via the electoral college.

A HUGE point of his campaign was Mexico was going to pay for the wall. So I'm unclear why there is a need to fund it using American taxpayer money. Perhaps you know why?

FIRE 20/20

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #45 on: December 30, 2018, 12:52:31 PM »
I'm not sure why you think a wall won't stop a large percentage of those trying to enter illegally.

Because that's not how the vast majority of people enter the country illegally.  Most overstay their Visa. 

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/05/22/dhs-releases-fiscal-year-2016-entryexit-overstay-report
https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/17_0914_estimates-of-border-security.pdf


Pizzabrewer

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #46 on: December 30, 2018, 01:11:19 PM »
I would give up that and more to get a wall built.

^This

Agreed!  The wall is LONG overdue.  Americans voted for Trump, and the wall was a HUGE point of his campaign.


And it was just as big a part of his campaign that Mexico would pay for it. Why is that now glossed over?

sol

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #47 on: December 30, 2018, 01:27:46 PM »
Americans voted for Trump, and the wall was a HUGE point of his campaign.

If you want to get all technical about it, more people voted against Trump than voted for him. 

This is the third time I have given you this exact same response to this exact same claim, and yet you still continue to repeat it.  Am I not getting through to you?

In other shutdown news, I had a national park vacation schedule for this week.  I expected all of the visitor centers and bathrooms to be closed, but all of the parks I've been to have actually been locked, like at the gate.
Yesterday at Guadalupe, the entrance gate was barred and there about a hundred cars parked along the side of the highway with families running across multiple lanes during breaks in the traffic.  This is NOT SAFE.  Why don't they just leave the gate open and let people use the nice turn lane, and then park in the huge parking lot a hundred yards away, where no one is going to get mowed down?  There are still nature trails and such you can access without needing the visitor center to be open.  By all means lock the buildings, but don't lock the gates to a park that I own.

I'm waiting for the national news to cover the first traffic fatality at a "closed" national park that decided to block safe access and put kids at risk of being mowed down by speeding cars.  This is stupid. 
« Last Edit: December 30, 2018, 01:34:08 PM by sol »

TomTX

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #48 on: December 30, 2018, 01:32:04 PM »
For my former coworkers, the lack of a paycheck during the furlough is less upsetting than getting ANOTHER zero percent pay raise for 2019.

I think Texas is on our 8th year of 0% pay raise - I'm not counting the 2% "raise" that matched the 2% increased (mandatory) employee pension contribution. The pension being underfunded is entirely the fault of the Legislature chronically underpaying their share for decades.

DreamFIRE

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Re: Fed employees - shutdown stories
« Reply #49 on: December 30, 2018, 01:36:59 PM »
Yeah, instead of giving no pay increases for existing workers, I would like to see something done to cut those generous government pensions for existing retirees paid for on the taxpayer dime.

I'm sure you're aware that federal pensions have already been cut twice in recent years, both increasing the employee contribution and cutting the employee benefit. 

That's why I specifically said "existing" retirees in my comment and also stated "generous".

ETA: I read it as him want to cut funding for current retirees. If he means future retirees, that's already happened, as sol mentions.

My comment specifically said "existing" retirees, so I'm not sure why you would say "if he means future retirees".

Exactly what existing retiree's?  Just curious who you have your beef with and why?

I thought my post was pretty clear, not sure why multiple people have difficulty with it.  I said existing retirees and generous government pensions.  What is so difficult to understand?