By Kevin Bogardus - 04/04/11 11:35 PM EDT
Both Dougan and Kelley said they expect that “thousands” of their members will call into Capitol Hill to advocate against the federal budget cuts backed by House Republicans.
“This is a opportunity to make their views known, to tell their stories, to talk about the direct impacts that this will have on their lives,” Dougan said. “I think our folks will take advantage of this great opportunity.”
Both labor leaders said they are worried that a government shutdown will lead to their members being furloughed. In addition, they said Americans would notice the lack of government services if federal agencies close up shop.
Kelley said a government shutdown could delay the distribution of tax refund checks as the April 18 filing deadline approaches. Kelley noted that IRS employees who handled tax refund checks were furloughed during the 1996 government shutdown.
“I have no specific information this year, but that’s because no lists have been released,” Kelley said. “It’s pretty hard to imagine that the entire workforce would be deemed essential.”
Government officials at the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management have told labor that shutdown plans have not been finalized yet and that they do not expect federal agencies will have to close in the end since a budget deal will be reached.
Nevertheless, Kelley believes the Obama administration does have precise plans on what will happen after a government shutdown, including personnel lists deeming specific workers as “essential” and “non-essential.”
“I believe they have a list of who is designated and employees should have been told yesterday,” Kelley said.
That this information has not been given to workers yet is “inexcusable” for Dougan.
“Waiting until 11:59 p.m. on a Friday to notify labor that the government is shutting down is not acceptable,” Dougan said.