Howard Egerman is Vice President of American Federation of Government Employee (AFGE) local 3172. He works at the Social Security office in East Oakland.

Looming Government Shutdown Will Wallop Federal Workers

Howard Egerman

“Will Work for Food.”  How many times do we see these signs at most every street corner?  For those of who are federal employees and who are so union representatives and officers, the time seems to be right for us to get out our Sharpies and make our own signs.

The last several years have seen my sisters and brothers in Social Security and other agencies continually being threatened with shutdowns and furloughs as a result of the lack of federal budgets or continuing resolutions, failure to raise the debt ceiling as well as the fiscal cliff.  Now as of October 1, 2013 we are going to be shut down again.

February 29: International RSI Day

February 29th is an unusual day for everyone, since it comes just once every 4 years.  However, to people who suffer from repetitive strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, thoriac outlet syndrome, rotator cuff injuries among others, this day is special. It's the only day on the calendar which is non- repetitive, and it's also International RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) Day.  It is a day to remember those of us who suffer from disorders caused by doing the same motions repeatedly that affect our muscles, nerves and tendons.

As someone who has had carpal tunnel syndrome since l998, I am luckier than most, since I became injured late in life.  When I first started my career, there were devices called typewriters, and office workers such as myself put pen to paper.

Deal or No Deal for Federal Workers

For the second time this year, federal workers throughout California appeared to be contestants on a Congressional version of “Deal or No Deal.”

Unlike private sector workers, those of us who work for Uncle Sam are dependent on Congress and the President for our pay and benefits. Even before this new high-stakes game began, we found ourselves with salary freezes over the next three years, regardless as to the cost of living or the increased cost of our health insurance coverage. And we just recently survived a last-minute threat of a government wide shutdown. While we may be paid through September 30, 20ll when the current fiscal year ends, everything else is uncertain.

A Roller Coaster for Federal Employees

My fellow Social Security Administration employees and other federal employees in California feel as if we are on a roller coaster that will not stop.  For the last several weeks, we have faced the threat of a possible federal government shutdown — and if Congress fails to come to a budget compromise by the end of this week, that shutdown would effectively begin at midnight tonight. At the same time, we’re holding on to the hope that Congress could pass a continuing resolution that would provide funding for one week, two weeks or even three weeks of work.  We almost feel as if we are dead women and men walking, waiting for some last-minute reprieve or commutation of our employment “sentence.”

Social Security Employees On the March

for Social Security (SSA)employees. Workers at SSA offices around the state marched in informational picket lines outside their offices to call attention to the impact of Congress's proposed budget cuts not just on themselves but also on the people they serve.

If the current Congressional budget proposal is passed, it would result in significant cuts for all seniors, disabled, survivors, Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries, and could even mean getting a new Social Security card. In fact, if this budget is adopted, SSA employees who are subject to President Obama’s wage freeze would be furloughed for up to one month before the end of the fiscal year (which is September 30, 2011).