Government workers still waiting for paychecks after end of shutdown

/ CBS/AP

Pence doesn't rule out another shutdown

Many federal workers still have not received their back pay or have only gotten a fraction of what they are owed as government agencies struggle with payroll glitches and other delays, nearly two weeks after the end of the longest government shutdown in U.S history.

And even as they scramble to catch up on unpaid bills and to repay unemployment benefits, the prospect of another shutdown looms next week. Vice President Mike Pence defended the shutdown on Wednesday, telling CBS News' Jeff Glor on Wednesday, "I never think it's a mistake to stand up for what you believe in."

But many workers say they are still struggling to recover their footing after the shutdown. The government has been short on details about how many people are still waiting to be paid.

"President Trump stood in the Rose Garden at the end of the shutdown and said, 'We will make sure that you guys are paid immediately.' … And here it is, it's almost two weeks later," said Michael Walter, who works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture food safety inspection service in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and only got his paycheck Wednesday. He said two co-workers told him they still had received nothing.

Government workers are struggling to regain their footing as another possible shutdown looms. Lawmakers have until Friday to formulate a deal or face the possibility of another shutdown later in February. Pence on Wednesday told Glor that he couldn't "guarantee" that the government wouldn't shut down again.

The Trump administration had taken "unprecedented steps to ensure federal employees impacted by the shutdown received back pay within a week," said Bradley Bishop, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget.

"Much opposite of 'slow and chaotic,' an overwhelming majority of employees received their pay by Jan. 31," he said, though he didn't respond to questions about how many people still hadn't been paid.

I really hope the government does not shutdown again on February 15th 2019. All the federal workers that I know have only received about 1/2 of their missing pay from the last government shutdown. I don’t know how they would make it if the government has another shutdown?

— William T (@WilliamT123123) February 7, 2019

The USDA said in a statement that pay was its top priority, but also did not respond to questions about how many workers were still awaiting paychecks. Asked to confirm that some people hadn't been paid, USDA spokeswoman Amanda Heitkamp replied, "I'm not sure."

Draining savings

Donna Zelina's husband works for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in South Dakota. He has received only a portion of his back pay, and does not expect to be fully paid until Feb. 12. The couple had to drain their savings shortly before the shutdown when both his parents died, leaving them in a precarious financial position.

Zelina said she called her creditors, but they wouldn't work with her. Her husband's car loan went into forbearance, causing them to rack up fees.

"I don't think people really understand what people do in government and just assume that everybody … makes millions of dollars," she said.

A spokesman for the Department of Interior, which handles payroll for more than five dozen government offices, did not answer when asked how many workers were due back pay, but said a "small group of employees" had not received anything. Spokesman Russell Newell said others received "interim payments of back pay" that would be made up in the next pay period.

Census, FAA

The Census Bureau acknowledged Wednesday that about 850 employees nationwide have yet to receive back pay or have only gotten a fraction of what they're owed. A spokesman said they expected most of those workers to be paid by Friday.

Other affected agencies include the Federal Aviation Administration, where two unions representing FAA workers said their members had not yet received all of their back pay.

Doug Church of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association said members who worked during the shutdown had not gotten overtime, which he said was a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. They also had not received the extra pay they were due for working nights and holidays, he said.

David Verardo, a union local president, said he was still owed $2,000 and estimated that the 1,000 workers his union represents at the National Science Foundation in Alexandria, Virginia, are each due between $1,200 and $3,000 for the two pay periods they missed.

"It's good that we got back pay at all, but it seems to have been clumsily done. When people ask questions, the answer they get is, 'We're doing the best we can,'" said Verardo of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3403.

Legal implications

Making matters even more confusing, he said payments for things like supplemental health plans and court-ordered alimony and child support were not withheld from paychecks. He said workers were told to pay them on their own, but many didn't know how to do that and were concerned about possible legal implications.

In addition to the pay delays, workers are struggling with issues like navigating the bureaucracy of paying back unemployment benefits and the looming question of whether there would be another shutdown after Feb. 15.

Trish Binkley, a tax examiner at the Internal Revenue Service in Kansas City, Missouri, is setting aside money, including her tax refund and an emergency loan she got from her credit union, in case of another shutdown.

She received two unemployment checks of $288 each during the shutdown before getting a letter informing her she was ineligible for the benefits — even though she had been told she qualified. Binkley has paid the money back, but worries about another shutdown.

She and others have grown increasingly frustrated at seeing social media posts that downplayed the impact of the shutdown.

"This was not a vacation. Vacations are supposed to be fun and relaxing. You have money to go do fun things or whatever. This was one of the most stressful periods of my life," Binkley said.

Career reevaluation

The shutdown motivated Cheryl Inzunza Blum to re-evaluate her career as a government contract lawyer representing immigrants in federal court in Tucson, Arizona. She has not been paid since before the shutdown began.

Blum realized she must diversify her solo law practice and plans to do more personal injury work. For the long term, she is making a bigger change. She enrolled in an online course in international relations at Harvard Extension School to educate herself on what drives migration, and hopes to work on solutions to the issues surrounding immigration.

"I did it because I don't want to go through this again," she said. "I want to carve out another career, I really do."

Among the groups hardest hit by the shutdown are contract workers who were kept home and who are not entitled to back pay.

The shutdown affected some 2,000 people with disabilities who got their government contract jobs with help from the nonprofit SourceAmerica, according to John Kelly, its vice president of government affairs and public policy.

Nearly 60 percent still had not been called back to their jobs as of Wednesday.

It's been a difficult time for those workers, who often have a hard time finding a job in the first place, Kelly said. Their jobs include custodial and mailroom work at agencies like NASA, the Coast Guard and the Department of the Interior, he said.

The shutdown has also damaged some workers' credit scores.

Pearl Fraley, of Greenville, North Carolina, who works for the food safety inspection service, had to work unpaid through the shutdown and used credit cards to get by. Fraley asked her landlord to waive the late fees on her rent, but has not heard back. She said her car's heater broke during the shutdown, and she hasn't had the money to get it fixed.

She's dreading another possible shutdown.

"I don't know if we can do this a second time," she said.

First published on February 7, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Government workers still waiting for paychecks after end of shutdown

Many federal workers have either received no back pay yet or only a fraction, adding to their financial stress

updated 4M ago

Twitter earnings climb as monthly user base falls

It said user numbers were lower at partly because of its efforts to cut down on malicious accounts

updated 9M ago

Gucci apologizes for "Blackface sweater"

Gucci pulled a sweater that resembled blackface and released an apology after many people wrote to the company in outrage over the racist garment

updated 11M ago

Paranoid about tainted lettuce? There may be an app for that one day

Scientists at MIT are developing technology that could one day scan lettuce for E.coli, detect lead in water and determine if alcohol is tainted

updated 15M ago

Record number of guns found at U.S. airport checkpoints in 2018

TSA data show airports where the most firearms were discovered are in the south, in states with looser gun laws

updated 24M ago

Boy, 10, takes knee during Pledge of Allegiance

Controversy follows Cub Scout Liam Holmes' move during Durham, N.C. City Council meeting

updated 2M ago

Trump speaking at National Prayer Breakfast — live updates

Trump is speaking at the annual event just two days after his State of the Union address

1H ago

Senate Judiciary votes on AG nomination

Once the committee approves the nomination, it will head to the full Senate, where Barr is expected to be confirmed

1H ago

Richard Burr on Senate Intel's Russia investigation, 2 years on

After two years, the committee's chairman sees no collusion, but says some questions will linger for decades

1H ago

Cindy McCain claim of stopping case of child trafficking proven wrong

John McCain's widow told police at airport about woman with child of different ethnicity but officers found nothing criminal going on

5H ago

ISIS' territory nearly gone, but is U.S. leaving job "halfway" done?

One Kurdish commander said ISIS has already established an underground network of terror cells preparing to regroup and strike back

updated 11M ago

In Venezuela power struggle, humanitarian aid may be a weapon

If U.S. manages to get desperately needed food and medicine into the country, it could be a huge boost for the opposition, but it may not be easy

1H ago

Hunger pushing Maduro's troops to tipping point in Venezuela

The Venezuelan armed forces are the kingmakers in an epic power struggle

4H ago

CBS News dodges ISIS bombs in Syria

U.S. forces and allies have reduced ISIS territory, but the fighting continues

13H ago

Earth could be headed for warmest period on record

The next five years could be even hotter than 2018, which was already near record territory

updated 1M ago

"The Wonder Years" child stars reunite with sweet photos

Even after all this time, it seems the crew is still getting by with a little help from their friends

9H ago

Ozzy Osbourne hospitalized after flu complications

"His doctors feel this is the best way to get him on a quicker road to recovery," tweeted his wife Sharon

10H ago

2019 Grammys: How to stream online or watch on TV

Alicia Keys will host the 61st annual Grammy Awards from Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS

15H ago

"NCIS" teases return of beloved character

The teaser trailer dropped during the Super Bowl, but fans will have to wait until February 12 to see if Ziva is really coming back

17H ago

Bradley Cooper "embarrassed" about Oscars snub

"A Star is Born" received eight nominations, but Cooper is disappointed about the one he didn't get – best director

20H ago

NASA and SpaceX reset Crew Dragon test flight for March 2

The Crew Dragon and Starliner spacecraft are the centerpieces of NASA's drive to resume launching U.S. astronauts aboard U.S. rockets from U.S. soil

12H ago

Earth could be headed for warmest period on record

The next five years could be even hotter than 2018, which was already near record territory

updated 1M ago

Snap reports record revenues, but struggles to add users

Struggling social media company gets a badly needed boost in growth, while its losses narrowed

Feb 5

Dinosaur that used spiny back to defend itself found in Patagonia

The new species of dicraeosauridae, christened Bajadasaurus pronuspinax, was revealed in scientific journal Nature

Feb 5

Facebook messenger rolls out unsend feature

After Facebook came under fire for letting Mark Zuckerberg alter message history, it gave all users an "unsend" option

Feb 5

Ozzy Osbourne hospitalized after flu complications

"His doctors feel this is the best way to get him on a quicker road to recovery," tweeted his wife Sharon

10H ago

New moms hit especially hard by opioid crisis

Research shows new mothers with opioid use disorder are at a higher of overdose due to lack of resources, shame and stigma

18H ago

Pet owners report dog deaths from recalled food

While one company is facing rash of unhappy consumers, it's one of at least 10 that distributed potentially toxic food

13H ago

Dad travels to Canada for son's medicine that would cost $53K in U.S.

In his State of the Union address, President Trump said his next major priority is lowering the cost of health care and prescription drugs

20H ago

Fact checking Trump's State of the Union

Here's a look at the president's claims on foreign and domestic policy

15H ago

Government workers still waiting for paychecks after end of shutdown

Many federal workers have either received no back pay yet or only a fraction, adding to their financial stress

updated 4M ago

Twitter earnings climb as monthly user base falls

It said user numbers were lower at partly because of its efforts to cut down on malicious accounts

updated 9M ago

Slack IPO could launch public offering bonanza this year

The messaging app is one of several high-profile companies expected to go public, including Uber and Airbnb

1H ago

Financial watchdog plans to scrap payday lending rules

Consumer advocates fear that federal agency's move to eliminate regulations will expose borrowers to risk

15H ago

Fisher-Price recalls Barbie Campers sold at Walmart due to injury risk

About 44,000 of the pint-sized pink vehicles need repair as wheels may continue to run after foot pedal released

16H ago

Caught on video: Man shooting school bus driver in head

Driver's wounds aren't life-threatening but police say incident's recklessness was "mind-numbing

4H ago

Man accused of kidnapping Jayme Closs appears in court

Jake Patterson faced a judge in person for the first time

19H ago

Suicide texting trial: The case against Michelle Carter in the death of Conrad Roy

The groundbreaking trial of a crime of the digital age — should a young woman go to prison for sending texts to a friend who took his own life?

20H ago

Officer won’t face charges in fatal mall shooting

Family of EJ Bradford, Jr. describes him as a "hero," decries "cover up" by Alabama attorney general

20H ago

Sandusky to be re-sentenced for child molestation conviction

Jerry Sandusky​ lost a bid for a new trial Tuesday, but a Pennsylvania appeals court ordered him to be re-sentenced for a 45-count child molestation conviction

Feb 5