Local federal workers struggling to cope after shutdown

by: Tom Regan Updated:

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ATLANTA, Ga. —

The massive Sam Nunn Federal Center in downtown Atlanta was like a ghost town Tuesday after thousands of workers were sent home due to the partial government shutdown.

"It's absolutely ridiculous that they would hold the salaries of federal employees hostage because they can't reach a budget agreement. I think that's absurd," said furloughed employee Karen Lewis.

The federal center is home to 22 government agencies and nearly 4,000 workers. A manager told Channel 2 Action News most employees in the building went home before the lunch hour. Workers told Channel 2's Tom Regan, they received official notice at 5 a.m. that they would have four hours to wrap up matters at work and go home.

"Clearly Congress isn't getting their job done. It's their job to approve the budget, so we can do our jobs," said furloughed EPA Engineer Chris Lippert.

Employees leaving their offices said they have no clue on when the shutdown would end.


SPECIAL SECTION: LOCAL EFFECTS OF GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN


Congress failed to pass a continuing budget resolution due to a battle over the health care reform act which resulted in a partial government shutdown that impacts 800,000 workers nationwide.

"I have a wife and two kids, so it's going to be hard. I would rather not take a pay cut, but if that's what we have to do, we have to move on," said furloughed worker Tony Spann.

An investigator for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said that the shutdown would not only impact employees, but citizens seeking help with job-related issues.

"Absolutely no work can be done by the commission, so that's going to hold up a lot of cases, a lot of people who need to get in a file and protect their rights," said furloughed EEOC worker Karen Lewis.

Workers who were on the job during the last government shutdown 17 years ago, said they are hopeful that current hiatus will be shorter than the 27-day shutdown that began in December 1995 and ended in January 1996.

"It appears to me the government ought to get together for the good of people, I don't see that happening," said furloughed worker Harold Turner.