CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — It's been over three weeks since the partial government shutdown started, but still there are no signs that either side is willing to budge.
- Contractors concerned they won't get back pay once shutdown's over
- Union leaders work to quell fears of almost 700 union men, women
- The workers are also in the midst of negotiating a contract change
“This is not the way to do it, hold a large amount of people across America hostage by this,” said Ed Grabowski, Logistics Specialist and President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Lodge 2061.
Grabowski and other union leaders have been out of work since the shutdown began and unlike federal employees, they don’t know if they will ever see any back pay after all is said and done.
“We are federal contractors. There is not a guarantee we are going to get paid,” said Grabowski. “People are starting to question, ‘Is this the job I want?’ It’s very stressful. The unknown. Should I take my skills somewhere else?”
To add to the stress, these men are in the midst of negotiating a current contract change.
“Everyone is trying to get picked up by the new contractor. The last date we were told is it won’t happen until March 1. So yes, they are dealing with that on top of the government shutdown and a loss of pay,” said Grabowski.
The union leaders work to quell the fears of the almost 700 union men and women they represent.
“It is a very difficult thing that when you had a good paying job, and all of a sudden you can’t even buy groceries for your four or six children that you have, it is very demeaning,” said Stephen Ching, Union Vice President and Industrial Electrician. “You worked at America’s space program. And now you have to sit there and go to a food pantry. Very difficult.”
There is no way to know how long this shutdown will last.
“Our politics have become so divisive and now here we are, middle class America getting caught in the crossfire. We are virtually being held hostage this political divide,” Ching said.