Only 2½ Layoffs Of Federal Workers Here
By LIBBY CUDMORE
So far, except for 2 1/2 layoffs at the USDA Farm Service Agency, there appears to be no local impacts from the longest U.S. government shutdown in history, now in its fourth week.
Approximately 125 Otsego County residents work for the federal government, but most work for the U.S. Postal Service, which is exempt from the shutdown, said Christian Harris, state Labor Department analyst, Southern Tier Region.
The three Farm Service Agency employees – two full-time, one part time – are at the Soil & Water Conservation office, were furloughed, as was Dana Razzano, an FDA food inspector, formerly of Cooperstown, who now works out of Albany.
“We’ve only missed one paycheck, so we’re doing okay,” she said. “But if we miss a second one, it could be a problem.”
She spent the first week filing for unemployment and trying to work with her mortgage and credit card companies to get assistance with payments. “I’ve never filed for unemployment before,” she said. “It’s embarrassing. I’m stressed. My co-workers are
Currently, the shutdown has caused more apprehension than anything.
“I’m advising people to get to the airport with plenty of time for delays at TSA checkpoints,” said travel agent Joan Badgley, Leatherstocking Trails. “If you’re flying domestically out of Albany, two and a half hours should be plenty.”
She hasn’t had any cancellations, but she tells her clients to consider trip insurance, or to pay a little more for a refundable flight in case of issues.
Passports, however, are not being delayed, according to the Oneonta Post Office.
If and when the full effects of the partial government shutdown hit Otsego County yet, Catholic Charities will be ready for them, said Lynn Glueckert, who directs the Oneonta office.
“Throughout the diocese,
we’ve made a plan to streamline the process for emergency assistance,” she said. “Most of the time, we would refer someone to social services, but these people may not be eligible, so we want to provide them with emergency assistance.”
That could mean anything from helping with overwhelming utility bills, rent or mortgage payments or
accessing the food pantries and meal services. “Typically, these people don’t have to come to social services,” she said. “We want to remove all barriers for them and make sure they know about the resources that are out there.”
In Washington, D.C., the county’s new congressman, Antonio Delgado, D-19th, had a different take: “It’s hitting everybody hard,” he said. “It’s irresponsible and reckless, and we need to do the work to get people back to work.”
Delgado said he has voted for all legislation in the Democratic House of Representative to re-open the government; however, the Republican U.S. Senate has not voted on any of it.
He said that he has received letters and phone calls from constituents sharing their stories.
“One woman said her husband commutes five and half hours to work every day, up at 4 a.m., home at 6 p.m.,” he said. “Their livelihood depends on his check. People who were already living paycheck to paycheck are feeling the pinch.”
But more than that, Delgado said that the shutdown could affect people who rely on SNAP benefits, Section 8 housing vouchers and the $4.7 billion in farm subsidies..
According to Dan Maskin, Opportunities for Otsego CEO, the SNAP program is funded through February, with the state distributing next month’s benefits early.
“I’m not hearing anything from colleagues or clients that’s immediately alarming,” he said.
If the shutdown continues through February, that may change, he said.