The US Gov’t may be open Again, but Fears Remain for Contractors

US Gov't

Thousands and thousands of federal workers went back to work after the longest government shutdown in US history on Monday, however, builder Ashante Clay did not. After five years working for Delany Siegel Zorn & Associates (DSZ), an external thing that investigates perform disputes at numerous government agencies, Clay was set off earlier this month. The company explicitly said that their decision was final, and the shutdown was supporting her conclusion, maybe not her operation.

Clay currently juggles her time trying to get in last-minute clinical appointments until her health care coverage ends in mid-February and working temporary jobs to “pay for groceries and autogas”. “When I just had a baby and couldn’t afford ObamaCare, actually, this [job] changed my life and my daughter’s,” she told Al Jazeera. Whether there’s a possibility her occupation may be reinstated she’s delivered a letter to find out but was advised to wait until later this week for an upgrade. DSZ did not respond at the time of publication to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.

There are an estimated 4.1 million government contractors and grantees across the United States, based on New York University Professor Paul Light, and for most, even with all the authorities back open, their jobs and livelihoods hang in the balance.

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Brown, that has been worried about falling behind on student loan obligations and the mortgage, spent the last few weeks working to make ends meet, but she is now unsure if she should go back for work to Virginia. “Government is security. Everyone wants a government job. The government isn’t secure anymore,” she told

Al Jazeera a week in the World Central Kitchen in Washington, DC, which delivers food and service assistance to people affected by the shutdown.

For many contractors, who asked to not be named, the shutdown made them feel like a “second-class workforce”. Discounts and some foods from salons, fast food chains, restaurants, and daycare centers were extended to federal employees, not contractors.

“They are the only ones who aren’t getting paid,” stated Seth Harris, a distinguished scholar at Cornell University’s School of Industrial & Labor Relations and former acting Secretary of Labor under former President Barack Obama. “Members of Congress are getting compensated the president is getting compensated. Contractors’ employees never get paid for work dropped to a shutdown.”

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The shutdown also negatively affected businesses in regions with high concentrations of workers. On Friday Trump warned that if Democrats and Republicans did not achieve an agreement on border security the government shutdown might restart. For builder Ashante Clay, her main priority is finding another job that provides and having the ability to make ends meet.

“When the shutdown happened, nobody at the time said it would be a life-changing thing,” she said. “There was not a sense of fear of any kind once the shutdown started.

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