Government shutdown looms over Chicago's federal workers

September 30, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The more accurate description of what could happen Tuesday is "partial government shutdown," and the people who will notice it the most are the affected federal employees.

Among the government workers who marched on Chicago's Federal Plaza was Deborah Monroe. She's worked for the government 31 years and doesn't think a shutdown would last more than a few days.

"I think they'll do it for maybe a day or two. But once they see that the President is not going to give in, it will be over," said Deborah Monroe, federal worker.

The immediate furloughs would affect only "non-essential" workers including 2,500 civilian employees at Naval Station Great Lakes. Several thousand more office workers at regional federal offices also would be laid off.

"If they come in tomorrow, they'll have four hours to close up their business," said Ken Brucks, HUD employee.

"It's going to cost millions of dollars to shut the government down nationwide and then it's going to cost millions of dollars to get the government up and running," said John O'Grady, AFGE.

A shutdown could disrupt federal investigators at Monday's CTA crash.

"As of midnight tonight-- if the government shuts down-- they'll be required to gather the evidence they have, the perishable evidence and fly back to Washington," said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois).

So-called "essential" workers-- including active U.S. Military, such as those at Naval Station Great Lakes-- would remain on the job. Also unaffected would be the federal courts, FBI, U.S. Marshal service, federal prisons and other law enforcement. At airports, the FAA's air traffic controllers will remain on duty as well as TSA screeners, and postal workers will not be affected.

"I think that there's an opportunity for us to all come together," said Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Hinsdale).

West suburban congressman Peter Roskam is one of the house republicans who want to fund the government only if fully implementing healthcare reform is delayed for a year.

"What we're proposing is say look, delay it for a year. It's clearly not ready for prime time," said Rep. Roskam.

Union officials said there were over 50,000 people on the U.S. Government payroll in Illinois, including some 5,000 here in the Chicago region.Again, many of those are considered essential and will not be affected by the furloughs if they in fact happen.

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