The federal shutdown is still dragging on and on and on. With some federal workers expected to miss their second paycheck this Friday, the crisis is becoming more and more painful for the families affected – including those of roughly 12,000 federal employees in Pennsylvania and 800,000 nationwide.
But locally, more and more groups and officials are offering a helping hand stepping up to try and remedy the problem.
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, the Philly electricians’ union, this week donated two food trucks – Wahlburgers and the Pizza Wagon – this week to serve up hot meals to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers.
TSA agents, who handle US airport security, are among the workers hit especially hard during the shutdown, required to stay on the job without a paycheck, and in cities like Houston and Atlanta airports have reported significant delays as some workers call out sick. Over the three-day weekend of Martin Luther King Day Jr., approximately 10 percent of screeners called out sick, the Associated Press reported.
The IBEW-paid trucks were at Philadelphia International Airport for a morning and afternoon shift Wednesday and are scheduled to return Friday, Jan. 25, from 6:30 a.m.–8:30 a.m. and 2:30-4:30 p.m., for TSA workers exclusively.
On top of that, IBEW Local 98 is donating $25,000 to Philabundance, which on Wednesday kicked off a weekly food market for furloughed federal workers at Front and Tasker streets. The first market on Wednesday was attended a line of hundreds wrapped around the block.
The Career Wardrobe, a nonprofit that provides heavily discounted professional clothing to low-income individuals, will be holding a special event for furloughed federal workers on Monday, Jan. 28.
The Wardrobe announced that their special monthly ‘Bag of HOPE’ event at their The Wardrobe Resale store at 1822 Spring Garden St., when customers can fill a bag with pre-selected items for $30, will be open this month to federal workers. Workers with government IDs can fill a bag for free on Monday, Jan. 28, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, Gov. Tom Wolf announced the state will use its own funds to pay federal employees working at state agencies, but said other core state functions are being impacted by the shutdown.
“Agencies across state government are working with local officials and organizations that rely on federal funding. We are temporarily using state funds to fill the gaps where we can. We are working to assist affected workers however we can. I urge businesses and creditors to show compassion for federal employees that are not being paid,” Gov.Wolf said in a statement. “I hope that the President will agree to accept the bipartisan funding bills and continue his fight over the wall for another day without the pain of this shutdown for workers, their families, and their communities.”
The Office of Administration is using state funds to pay federally funded employees working at state agencies, and expecting reimbursement after the shutdown ends, Wolf’s office said. But the state has also had to pay up $7.1 million to the Department of Transportation in unreimbursed expenses. Trainings for first responders and emergency management practitioners have been canceled. A Department of Conservation and Natural Resources elevation mapping project that requires federal funds is on hold. And the Department of Environmental Protection is facing delays in issuing final approvals on grant funding and permitting functions – while also still awaiting a now delayed EPA report evaluating the effects of PFAS levels found in suburban Philly watersheds.