You don't know anything! SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP!

I’m a biologist working for one of the various branches of the NIH. The NIH, like most government agencies, is subject to shutdown if the government doesn’t decide on a goddamn budget. The ONLY thing more frustrating than the uncertainty surrounding this shutdown is the fact that * no one WILL STOP TALKING ABOUT IT.*

When shutdown was looming months ago, everyone gathered around and talked for hours every day about “What if this?” and “Who can come to work?” and “Will I get paid/have health insurance/need to stop experiments?”. The answer: we don’t know. We have been issued exactly zero guidelines.

And when there was a continuing resolution put in, and shutdown was looming again, everyone gathered around and talked for hours about the same damn thing.

And two weeks later, when the next continuing resolution was running out, everyone was gathered around for hours talking about… you guessed it.

In the past week, we have had two lab conferences, endless discussions, frantic phone calls, revised opinions, and hysterical hyperventilation, all of which add up to: we don’t know. We have been issued exactly zero guidelines.


Oh, wait! You’ve come in to announce something!

“We don’t know yet whether anyone here will be exempt from furlough.”
Oh, there’s a special announcement before the departmental meeting!

“We won’t have any information until Monday. Come in then and we’ll tell you what to do.”
Oh, the lab head is asking everyone to gather and pay attention to him!

“I just wanted to let you know that all of the previous things that I said about not knowing anything are still in effect.”

Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP!

I hate you all.

So what’s going to happen? Are you going to get furloughed?

I still have time to purchase government plane tickets, travel to California, and strangle you, before the government shuts down.

You know, people have a right to be worried about this, and that’s why they are talking about it. They are worried about what happens to them (“Will I be able to pay the rent / see the doctor / etc.?”) and their work (“What happens to my research project, where I have to take measurements every day?”). It’s very natural for them to worry – and you’re lucky if you are worried about how it affects you.

I know that. I’m worried, too. I have health issues and money issues and science issues and career issues all tied up in this mess. But spending hour after hour talking about how we don’t know what’s going to happen and we have no way of knowing what’s going to happen and our scientific director doesn’t know what’s going to happen and the contractors don’t know what’s going to happen and the departmental head doesn’t know what’s going to happen… doesn’t help a damn thing and it ONLY ADDS TO MY STRESS LEVEL.

I understand the urge, I really do. But at some point you have to put on your big girl panties and just wait for more information to come out.

Whenever I’m tempted to worry, I just remember that our elected leaders are working hard to find a solution, and have our best interests at heart, and would never let anything bad happen to us.

Here’s the very latest update on the impending government shutdown:

"Today the federal government will shut down if Congress is not able to pass some kind of budget agreement by midnight EST. The negotiations are currently ongoing, with both sides still refusing to budge on at least on key issue. A government shutdown could have dramatic effects on millions of Americans. "

Further updates as they become available.

So are you an essential worker or non-essential worker?

I’ve never understood that term, and who decides that anyway?

The Essential Employee Committee, of course.

They’re getting sent home first.

Greetings fellow NIH guy.

At my branch we had just one staff meeting at which the shutdown was discussed, which was a regular meeting set months ago. At this meeting we found out that we were all non-essential (not surprising since all we do is analyze data and review protocols) but otherwise got the we don’t know anything speech. So I’m not quite in your shoes.

That said the total lack of information spread to the employees is incredibly annoying. Even a simple email telling us what will and won’t be allowed (will I be able to access my email) would be very helpful. I’ve gotten more information reading the Washington Post than I have from my supervisors. I’ve known that this could be a possibility for weeks, so surely they have too. Surely they could have put out some basic idea of a policy in the case of such an event. I’ve gotten more advance information as to what is going to happen for a snow day than I have for this. Heck if I hadn’t been hooked into the media and talked with my co-workers, I wouldn’t even know that a shutdown was in the offing.

Well, that’s freakin’ helpful.

Who knows? We haven’t been given guidelines for who is essential, how many people are essential, who decides on whether or not you’re essential, or what the fuck essential means.

To add to the nightmare, many (possibly most) workers at the NIH are “post-doctoral fellows”, which technically aren’t federal employees - we’re “trainees”, despite Ph.D.s and years of biology experience. We don’t get federal benefits and we’re paid by independent “taxable grants”, rather than salaries. This might mean we’re exempt, since our grants are appropriated at the beginning of the year, or it might mean we’re not exempt, since “trainees” can’t be here without supervision, or it might mean that if we’re furloughed we can’t get back wages, since we aren’t employees. Or it might mean something else.

We just received an announcement that we still don’t know anything, but the head of our department has been called into a meeting for all of the department heads. Just like last week.

I’m a proud NIH chick.

I’ve talked to people at least four steps up my chain of command, and they’re not getting guidelines yet. There’s more than enough frustration to go around.

I’m a DoD employee at a very large medical treatment facility. Trust me, we’re getting the same level of information here. Oh, we got the memo from the Deputy Secretary of Defense, which really told us nothing.

Unofficially, I know the following:

I am non-essential. I already knew this because I didn’t have to sign a memorandum stating I was essential when I started in this office.

I will have to come in on Monday morning for an “orderly” shut down. I am not to take my work laptop home. I cannot touch it. Those with blackberries can’t touch them.

I really understand your frustration, mischevious. However, some people just need to talk to get it out of their systems and know that others commiserate with them.

We’re all scared and worried. I really can’t live without my paycheck. And, while we’ve been hearing “shutdown” for months, we hear it every year; so a lot of people just thought we’d come down to the wire, like always, and then something would be done.

I’ve lived through one furlough, and am hoping to make it through this one.

It has been 17 minutes since the last post. Does anyone know anything new?

I heard that Congress is working on it, but nobody’s sure what’s going to happen. Can anyone confirm that rumor?

I’ll preface this by saying that I deeply sympathize with all those folks who are uncertain how things are going to unroll with the shutdown, but is there any serious likelihood the shutdown will last much longer than a few days?

Also, are members of Congress and their staffs considered “essential”? 'Cause I’m not really feeling it right about now.

Well, only members of Congress can end the shutdown; but, until they decide to do that, perhaps they should regard themselves as non-essential and stay home without pay.

One Congressman had a town meeting with federal employees last night saying this could go one through May! Why? Because they leave 18 April for their spring break. Oh, and Congress continues to be paid. :mad: That emoticon doesn’t truly express the rage I feel at them.

I really hope it doesn’t go on beyond a few days, but I have run out of hope that Congress will do what’s right for the people and pass a fucking bill.

That’s right. {nods seriously}

That’s pretty much what you can expect from people who vote for their own salaries and terms of work. (I of course am assuming they do - if not, well, just forget I said anything. :slight_smile: )

Yup, they vote for their own pay. I’m not surprised, or naive, it still just burns, burns, burns, is all.

I hope that Obama will teach them about Article II Section 3 if they dare to do that.

The most recent Constitutional amendment says they can only increase the salaries of members of the next Congress (of course, realistically, the large majority of them will be members of the next Congress).