Gov't Shutdown Hurting 18,000 Workers in MN

Updated: 10/04/2013 6:31 AM By: Beth McDonough

The deadlock in Washington, D.C. is directly affecting 18,000 federal employees here in Minnesota.

As early as Friday at noon, more jobs and paychecks will likely be gone. It's almost certain for the folks at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

A KSTP crew talked with Stanley Walton as he walked out the doors of the VA Building in Fort Snelling. "I go out and help veterans that are homeless," he said. The long-time federal employee is unsure if his exit is for the day, or for a while. "We are the people caught in the middle, federal employees, we don't have anything to do with their disagreements, but we're receiving the blunt of it."

Walton is considered non-essential and he's not happy, "I'm very sad that I won't be out helping the people that need it the most, the veterans anyway."

His co-worker's job is considered necessary. Colin Barrett is required to show up and work, but the shutdown means no paycheck, indefinitely, "it's just uncertainty is always uneasy."

For some employees, a recording, is their only line of communication. They're instructed to call the hotline everyday to see if they're expected at work. Like the budget standoff, the six minutes of button pushing is frustrating, "it's not like the workload is going away, it's going to stack up, the backlog is going to get bigger," said Jane Nygaard who represents the Federal Employees Union. She says it's unclear if essential workers will collect their wages, once the shutdown is over. 

As for Walton, his mood is as dreary as the weather. His wife also works for the federal government, "bills have to get paid, creditors want you to hold up your end of the bargain, so we'll have to try and figure something out, I don't know what."

KSTP talked with DEED, the Department of Economic and Employment Development. They said as soon as someone is notified they're not working, they can apply for unemployment benefits. There's no waiting period.