A furloughed EPA employee, speaking personally and not on behalf of their agency:
People are coping as best they can, but with so many colleagues living paycheck to paycheck, the situation is getting dire. I’ve heard stories about federal workers delaying medical care and surgeries, and our union has circulated a resource list of food banks.
As a single worker without a family to support, I’m luckier than most and can weather a missed paycheck or two, but it’s hard not to see this as part of a strategic effort to cut the federal workforce down to a fraction of its former size. If this goes on, people are going to be forced to find other work as a matter of survival. As a result, we may be looking at an emaciated federal workforce at the end of all of this. The effects of the shutdown will continue to reverberate after it’s over.
One point to note is that it’s about us, the workers, but it’s also about the people we serve. Every day that EPA workers are kept at home, communities stay contaminated and environmental health risks go unmanaged. We want to go back to work for ourselves, AND for the people and communities we have dedicated our lives to protecting. This shutdown affects all of us.