Federal Employees in Kensington Nervous About Upcoming Budget Cuts
Despite no announcements so far, federal employees from Kensington remain apprehensive of possible cuts, furlough days.
Government workers in Kensington are saying that so far they have not noticed any results of the sequestration, but they remain apprehensive of the effects of possible budget cuts in their departments.
“Speaking not just as a government official but also as a concerned citizen, we’re all nervous of the trickle-down effect these cuts could have,” said Katherine Whiting, who works for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “Our budget will obviously be impacted.”
There are 195 government workers living in Kensington, According to the United States Census Bureau American FactFinder. That number is approximately 20 percent of the Kensington workforce, compared to the national average of 15 percent.
Overall, almost 50,000 federal employees reside in Montgomery County, meaning that the county would be one of the hardest-hit nationally in the case of federal spending cuts or mandatory days off. County officials have worked with officials from nearby Prince George’s and Howard counties to urge Congress and the White House to reach an agreement.
The most pressing concern for local employees was the probability of furloughs, or mandatory unpaid time off.
Walt MacDermid, an Internal Revenue Service employee, said that everyone in his department would receive 30 days notification of any furloughs. Although nothing was official by the end of the day Friday, he said talk in the office was that everyone would be forced to miss two work days every pay period.
Andre Diamond, local president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said that the U.S. Postal Service would remain unaffected by any sequestration cuts. However, he did say that members of the 230,000 person national organization were worried not only about the upcoming appropriations bill battle but also that the current sequester fight could prove to be a precedent.
The appropriations bill, which must be signed by March 27 to prevent a government shutdown, contains no language guaranteeing six-day mail delivery. If it is not included, the postmaster general has the authority to cancel Saturday delivery, a blow to the job security of local postal workers.
“If they don’t protect Saturday delivery, that is the beginning of the end of the U.S. Postal Service,” said Diamond. “If we can’t deliver medicine or other important items regularly, we will lose these customers. A five-day week means laying off one of every six mail carriers, and will have a domino effect on jobs reliant on the postal service.”
Most organizations said that they would wait until after the weekend to announce any results of the sequestration. Employees at the Housing Opportunities Commission, headquartered in Kensington, said at the end of the workday that there was no difference from a typical day, but they expect significant changes by this week if a deal is not reached.
Although no one had experienced direct effects of the sequestration, many federal employees said that they remain nervous of what is to come.
“I’m concerned that this is the beginning of a serious trend,” said Vanessa Eisemann, who works for the United States Commission on Civil Rights. “We could begin to see significant changes for the worse, in our education, budget, and federal programs.”