OGDEN — With no immediate end to the federal government shutdown in sight, Internal Revenue Service workers plan to rally in downtown Ogden to push for a resolution to the funding impasse behind the stoppage.
The shutdown is increasingly impacting the 5,000 or so IRS employees in Ogden and their families, making it tougher for them, without paychecks, to make ends meet. “It makes you feel very distressed and unnerved,” said Krystle Kirkpatrick, an IRS employee from Clinton who helps manage communications for Chapter 67 of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents most Ogden-area IRS workers.
The rally, announced Monday, is scheduled for Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. outside the James V. Hansen Federal Building at 324 25th St., which houses IRS and other federal offices. All federal workers furloughed because of the partial shutdown, which started Dec. 22, are invited, Kirkpatrick said. It coincides with another rally Thursday in Washington, D.C., by NTEU and other federal employee unions, also to push for an end to the shutdown.
“No matter what side of the political end you sit on, we need the shutdown to end,” Kirkpatrick said. She’s also trying to get word out to local U.S. Forest Service workers furloughed because of the shutdown.
The IRS has a huge presence in Ogden and is one of the top employers here. Union officials and others have warned of the possible ripple effects — furloughed workers spending less, hurting the local economy.
In her case, Kirkpatrick said, she tapped her savings to cover her latest home payment to avoid a penalty from her mortgage company and a ding to her credit record. At the same time, she emphasized that IRS workers earn an average of around $40,000 a year. “That’s not a lot of income. A lot of us are paycheck to paycheck,” she said.
Kirkpatrick and others have applied with the Utah Department of Workforce Services for unemployment benefits, she said. For many, the funds — which would have to be paid back if furloughed workers ultimately get reimbursed for their lost hours — are needed to cover immediate expenses and offset the loss of a paycheck from their IRS jobs.
However, the requirements to get unemployment benefits are rigorous, DWS officials are backlogged with requests and, at least in her case, she hasn’t yet gotten a response, Kirkpatrick said. Of the 5,000 area IRS workers, about three-quarters are furloughed, or around 3,750. But even those who are working aren’t yet getting paid.
“We want the shutdown to end. We want to get back to work,” Kirkpatrick said.
Many IRS workers are skeptical an end to the shutdown is coming any time soon. If lawmakers resolve the funding conflict behind the stoppage before Thursday, though, “that would be so great and we would all go to work,” Kirkpatrick said.
Funding for about a quarter of federal government operations are impacted by the shutdown. The key sticking point to funding legislation to get the impacted agencies running again is President Donald Trump‘s call for the inclusion of $5 billion to expand the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, opposed by Congressional Democrats.