ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – Thousands of federal employees and workers at an area military base prepared Monday for a possible government shutdown and unpaid time off.
Steven Hollis, President of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3354, said ten to 15-thousand St. Louis area workers who will be off the job if there is a government shutdown, will be on the streets tomorrow.
“Everybody will be affected by it, and even those who are declared essential, such as healthcare workers at VA hospitals will not get paid for the work they are doing,” Hollis said.
Federal lawmakers were trying Monday to reach a spending agreement to avert a shutdown after midnight. In St. Louis, the most immediate effects would include the closure of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and the Gateway Arch.
“Everything will be closed,” said Ann Honious, National Parks Service spokeswoman. That means 75 employees will stop receiving a paycheck.
“We have approximately 30 employees that will stay on as essential,” she adds but those will be mostly dispatchers and law enforcement officers to protect public safety in and around the arch grounds.
One attraction that will remain open will be the riverboats, which are operated by bi-state development corporation, and not the Parks Service.
Scott Air Force Base
Thousands of workers at Scott Air Force Base east of St. Louis have already weathered unpaid furloughs as part of the automatic federal spending cuts. Two-thirds of the base’s 5,000 civilian workers could be furloughed as long as the shutdown persists, said Air Force Col. Kyle Kremer, commander of the base’s primary air wing.
“If tonight at midnight Congress has not passed a continued resolution then we’ll go into an emergency shutdown situation,” Kremer added. “Only those employees who are in an excepted of mission essential status will continue to work in a non-paid status.”
Still, Kremer said, the shutdown would not compromise the base’s role as a global mobility and transportation hub for the Defense Department.
Around 13,000 civilian employees would be exempt, since they draw salaries and operational funds from unrelated sources.
Hollis with Local 3354, said the two government shutdowns in fiscal 1996 totaled 26 days, and cost taxpayers $1.4 billion.