January 15, 2019

"They’re required to work without being paid — that is the essence of involuntary servitude. The government has absolutely violated famous constitutional rights."

Said Michael Kator, an attorney for the plaintiffs who are working without pay during the shutdown, quoted in "'The essence of involuntary servitude': Federal unions sue the Trump administration to get paid for shutdown work" (WaPo).

The judge just ruled from the bench, denying a temporary restraining order:
U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon said it would be “profoundly irresponsible" to issue an order that would result in thousands of employees staying home from work. "At best it would create chaos and confusion,” Leon said. “At worst it could be catastrophic . . . I’m not going to put people’s lives at risk.”...

The union was seeking a temporary restraining order against the federal government for allegedly violating controllers’ constitutional rights under the Fifth Amendment. Those working without pay must show up because their positions are considered vital for “life and safety.” More than 17,000 others are furloughed....

"There is no doubt that real hardship is being felt,” Leon said. But “the judiciary is not and cannot be another source of leverage” in resolving political “squabbles."
There also doesn't seem to be any doubt that the workers will all in the end be paid for the work they are doing now.

60 comments:

alanc709 said...

Remember Patco? Looks like the air controllers are going to go 0-2 in the courts.

Jim at said...

I was thinking about this last night as the GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN CLOCK!!! was ticking on the local news.

It hasn't impacted me one, single bit. Not even a little.

I wonder how many other people are coming to the realization we really don't need all these people on the federal payroll.

John said...

Jim,

You’re not being impacted because they are still working. Did you even read the post?

Fernandistein said...

"They’re required to work without being paid"

No they're not.

If they were forced to work they'd be called a "workforce" rather than called "federal employees".

EDH said...

They can submit their resignations and look for new work if they wish, can't they?

Jim at said...

I did read the post. I was talking about the shutdown in general. Not all federal employees are working ... hence the suggestion they're not really needed.

Nonapod said...

Federal Unions are just about the worst idea ever (outside of hardcore Communism itslef). It's next to impossible to fire a Federal employee no matter how incompetent they may be. Like communism, they insure that the quality of work sinks down to the least common denominator, because why bother to put any but the most minimal amount of effort into you work if you'll never be fired or promoted beyond what is mandated.

Lucid-Ideas said...

"It comes with the job"

All jobs have unpleasant aspects that "come with the job". Government shutdown risk is one of those "things that come with the job" for federal employees. I don't mind telling that to federal employees, I enjoy it, "it comes with the job".

Bay Area Guy said...

Decertify these unions of federal workers. Don't need them. They create mischief.

rehajm said...

Food for thought for the 70 percent income tax socialists: 1) People respond to incentives, and they really respond to removing the incentive to work, apparently...and 2) People have expectations they will be justly compensated for work.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Air traffic controllers are still working. Many, many others are "furloughed," meaning that they aren't working at all, but will nonetheless (as Ann writes) eventually be paid for all the work they didn't do. Did you even read the post?

This can't possibly come under the 13th Amendment, because no one here is a slave; they have the same right not to show up for work as they always had. Not showing up, true, will mean that they're out of a job; but I should say that the absence of whips, dogs, and the like makes a pretty big difference.

Greg Hlatky said...

Usually, Federal employees get paid without working.

stevew said...

"There also doesn't seem to be any doubt that the workers will all in the end be paid for the work they are doing now."

As I recall that is always how it works in these shutdown crises, which if true means they are being paid in that their employer is accumulating a payroll obligation. They just won't get the check until later.

My employer pays me in arrears too, twice per month, each for the preceding work period.

Martin said...

If someone doesn't like it, they can quit, or just not come in and either use leave days or face discipline. That is NOT involuntary, and calling it such minimizes real slavery. Much like calling someone a "climate change denier" is a conscious allusion to the Holocaust and minimizes real genocide.

Bullshit lawsuit.

n.n said...

This is not a matter of involuntary or superior exploitation, where there are no alternatives, or liberal conceptions of redistributive change and costs. The issue is securing American civil and human rights through border discretion, alien quarantines, and a forward-looking policy of diplomatic, cultural, and economic emigration reform.

rhhardin said...

Government unions are not unions. There's no profit restraint on negotiations.

They're lobbying groups.

rhhardin said...

When I was a contract worker I billed once a year.

Fernandistein said...

Usually, Federal employees get paid without working.

"Most of 'em should be charged rent" - Good Old Dad.

Saint Croix said...

Bullshit lawsuit.

Well, the rhetoric might be bullshit. The lawsuit's not bullshit. If we contract for work and I do the work and you don't pay me, that's a lawsuit. Right?

Curious George said...

How can you tell if a federal employee is dead and not working?

They drop the donut.

Saint Croix said...

It's a lawsuit under the 5th Amendment, not the 13th.

Tommy Duncan said...

"There also doesn't seem to be any doubt that the workers will all in the end be paid for the work they are doing now."

If you listen to MSM coverage of the partial shutdown you would have considerable doubt that the workers will all in the end be paid for the work they are doing now.

You would also believe they are candidates for sainthood.

hombre said...

Remember when unions sued Obama? Me neither.

hombre said...

Blogger rhhardin said...
“Government unions are not unions. There's no profit restraint on negotiations. They're lobbying groups.”

And sources of campaign funds for Democrats.

RobinGoodfellow said...

They will get paid. Just not until the impasse is resolved.

alanc709 said...

TSA personnel will actually receive a $500 bonus on top of their usual pay, for working during the shutdown. Makes you want to pat down a octogenarian in a wheelchair, doesn't it?

RigelDog said...

I believe that the last time there was a shut-down, those who literally were not permitted to come to work for a certain number of days were not paid for those days even after the shut-down was resolved. In our household, meanwhile, the federal employee is deemed essential and is literally mandated to come to work every day---cannot even employ vacation days during the shut-down.

Unknown said...

After 30 days, RIF kicks in. Almost there...

Mark said...

There is no constitutional right that government employees get paid bi-weekly or monthly or even annually, so long as at some point, they do get paid.

FIDO said...

I know many people in businesses which were having fiscal difficulties. The management went to them requesting pay cuts. I had a pay freeze after 9/11: no more raises.

Worse bosses just stop paying their employees for a time. Most of these people continue working because of the time, effort and soul invested in the company WITHOUT the assurances that their businesses will even exist the next year, next month, next week.

Federal employees have no such sense of fear.

So I don't like the fact of the shutdown as a political tool. The fact that Democrats refuse to negotiate in good faith and haven't since 1986 kind of forces the issue.

And just to give you a sense of what kind of cost the Democrats aren't budging on: The US government budget spends TEN BILLION, FOUR HUNDRED EIGHTY MILLION DOLLARS PER DAY

So Pelosi and Schumer are causing all this angst and pain for half a day of the budget.

Think about that.

MikeR said...

"There also doesn't seem to be any doubt that the workers will all in the end be paid for the work they are doing now." Of course they must be paid for work they are doing. The question should be, What about the ones who aren't working - why should they get paid?

Qwerty Smith said...

If unpaid, consensual work is slavery, does that mean that unpaid, consensual sex is rape? The union's reasoning implies as much.

SDaly said...

If I were black, I'd be mighty offended that Michael Kator compared the plight of federal employees to slavery.

walter said...

Ah..RIF, reduction in force..so I just learned.

" Senior officials can reprioritize during an extended shutdown, focus on valuable results and weed out the saboteurs. We do not want most employees to return, because we are working better without them."

https://dailycaller.com/2019/01/14/smoke-out-resistance/

Openidname said...

If a private employer did this, it'd have its state Labor Commission up its wazoo.

Greg P said...

If any of them want to quit, they're free to do so.

Let them try to get jobs in the private sector. We have a booming economy, for competent people.

FIDO said...

Let them try to get jobs in the private sector. We have a booming economy, for competent people.

**


"I've worked in the private sector- they expect results!"

Crimso said...

I very much sympathize with the people who are stuck with no money to cover basic expenses (not everybody who is a government employee makes a lot of money). Saying they'll get paid when this is all worked out isn't any help when your mortgage payment is due. The Dems really need to keep this in mind and send Trump a bill he will sign. They think he'll eventually cave; they've learned nothing about him.

When I was a post-doc, I was paid once a month. One month they gave me two identical paychecks. I knew to not so much as even deposit the duplicate; obviously, they quickly straightened it out. We all thought it was pretty funny. Another time, though, I went to the department office to pick up my paycheck and was told "It isn't here." I asked what I needed to do to get paid. They directed me to the office responsible for the payroll, and I was told by them that it could take as long as 4 weeks to rectify the situation. I was dumbfounded that there wasn't an official at the university with the power to simply write a check until it all got sorted out (a university with an endowment in the billions; our department alone was bringing in millions/yr just from NIH grants, one of which I was supposed to be paid from).

For those who don't know anything about post-doctoral researchers, they are generally paid much better than grad students and much, much less than faculty. This was in the mid 90s, and my salary was about $25,000/yr. My wife made more than I did, and we had a little money saved, but not nearly enough to cover a month. I NEEDED that money, and I needed it that day. It ended up taking 2 days.

Yancey Ward said...

The employees do have an option- they can quit- that doesn't violate the law. They only have to show up if they haven't formally resigned their positions.

gilbar said...

WE’re required to Pay (once government reopens) them (the unessentials)without them working — that is the essence of a title of nobility. The government has absolutely violated famous constitutional rights."
Said Michael Kator, an attorney for the plaintiffs who are working

fixed it for you

gilbar said...

the final lines of the poem: Ten Things I Hate About the Government Shutdown

But mostly I hate the way I don't hate you
Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.

JML said...

I'm a furloughed Fed, as is my wife. I'll have 20 years at the end of this month, having bought back my military time to go towards retirement. My wife will retire in March, if we are back to work by then. We both worked private and public, and there is no doubt there is more risk in public employment, but depending on the job, there is more pay as well. Guys I know on the 'outside' doing what I do earn about $50K more a year, with benefits as good as mine, less the defined pension. But they have more risk, so it is fair. One of the primary reasons we went to the feds is we could buy our military time and put it towards retirement. We both had about nine years in the military. When my wife left public employment and went back to the Feds, it took us 6 years before we were at a point where together we made as much as she made alone.

I have managed to fire one employee, and it took almost a year to do so. I had two others who left for other agencies, and now my employees, except one, is the same caliber as the folks I worked with on the outside, meaning I have one or two less than stellar, a few average and some top performers. The top performer work hard, earn our pay and frankly, are overworked. The others earn their pay most of the time, which is how it was in the private sector. Some of you will poo poo this. Fine. Fed employees have earned this reputation, and once I actually have those 20 years and am eligible for retirement, I'll be more free to discuss the typical 'leader' in Federal Service in my Agency. If supervisors could more easily fire poor employees, it would be the greatest reform of Federal employees ever. I'd love to see that.

Frankly, I can't wait to retire. I'd like to go until I'm at least 62, but I have seriously considered leaving at 20 with a reduced pension and find another job. My Agency has lost their way and has been lost for 25 or more years. It is a hard place for competent acquisition professionals to work.

I voted for Trump. I approve of what he is doing, and having worked in some highly classified projects, there was no way I could even consider voting for clinton. A general statement of my political thoughts: Republicans are idiots and Democrats are scumbags. I want the wall built. I'm willing to wait. Yes, it is bull shit that I'll eventually get paid. I didn't make those rules, politicians did. Thanks for listening, have a good day.

gilbar said...

JML typo'd ...
there is no doubt there is more risk in public employment, but depending on the job, there is more pay as well


from your context i felt safe calling this a typo? please confirm?

Rick said...

"They’re required to work without being paid — that is the essence of involuntary servitude.

The ability to quit is the antithesis of involuntary servitude.

Rick said...

It hasn't impacted me one, single bit. Not even a little.

We had a group outing planned which included touring Independence Hall and some other historical venues which ended up being closed. So we went to the Museum of the American Revolution instead. It was great!

It's just not that hard to deal with changes. I've had dozens of people complain about their little imperfections and none seem to get they are reinforcing our understanding of their complete incompetence.

Stephen Cooper said...

Several people here have said things that are not true.

"they all will be paid".

Not the ones who die between the paychecks which were missed and the end of the shutdown.

Out of the large number of people who are working without a paycheck , that is not a small number.

Even worse are the dependents of the people who are working without being paid, dependents who do not work, but who are actually suffering quite a lot because the kind relative (whether parent, child, or concerned sibling) or kind friend who usually has enough money to help them out between paychecks does not have enough right now. Of those dependents, a few hundred per week will die before the end of the shutdown, and lots and lots of kids will have opportunities they can never have again denied to them. Many - probably a thousand a week - old people will not realize that the trip that was cancelled by their unpaid children, or nephews and nieces, would have been the last time they saw each other.

A lot of people who said untrue things on this thread do not understand the concept of (a) large numbers of people or (b) the reality that lots of people have to live paycheck to paycheck through no fault of their own.

So yes, working for no paycheck is the definition of servitude.

That being said, I support Trump a hundred percent on this, he is on the moral high ground under the totality of circumstances.

Josephbleau said...

Blogger Openidname said...
If a private employer did this, it'd have its state Labor Commission up its wazoo.

1/15/19, 3:27 PM

If a private organization demanded 30 percent of my revenue by force they would be arrested. Except in Illinois.

mockturtle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mockturtle said...

There also doesn't seem to be any doubt that the workers will all in the end be paid for the work they are doing now.

And will Congress be paid for work they are not?

Marcus said...

Those that are working without pay? Back pay. I'd even be in favor of a bonus. Those who were deemed non-essential and are not working and not getting paid? NO back pay. Solly Cholly.
(Unless there is a provision for this in the Collective Bargaining Unit)

THEOLDMAN

(I better get my damn SS check tomorrow! LOLz) If I don't I still support Trump in this situation.

JML said...

gilbar: Not a typo. A friend of mine left DOD Civilian Service for the same job (Contracting Specialist) with a large company. He was paid twice as much as me and our co-workers. As I got promoted, my pay caught up but he still makes at least $50K more than I do. My wife was a Director at a Fortune 100 company. At her highest pay as a Director in a civil service position, she made less than 60% percent of what she made in civilian life. As a civilian at the director level, she had 43 facilities she was responsible for in the US and two other countries. She had 6 employees. As a director with the DOD, she was responsible for every Air Mobility Command facility around the world, and had 11 employees. One year her stock options were worth more than the highest pay she ever made in civil service. At the lower grades, I think it is the opposite - the lower graded employees are paid better than those on the outside doing the same type of work. My friend above could easily get fired. I can't easily get fired. Does he work harder than me? I don't know, but my level of responsibility as about the same as his now, maybe more with a detail I just took. I admire him for leaving. He admired me for leaving as well. (I went to Test and Evaluation at a different command to become a Test/Program Manager. But guess what? That position was eliminated a few years later and I got sent back to contracting. It sucks. Then again, if his position was eliminated, he might get sent to the unemployment office.) I made the choice to go to a civil service position and to stay in civil service. BTW, my wife's Directorate was reorganized and her position was eliminated. She had to find a job or face getting RIF'ed. We chose to move, and she makes a lot less here at a lower grade than at her old position. Again our choice. I know feds who lost their job. It is more rare and it is harder. But it happens.

JML said...

Also, I have several contractors who are not getting paid and won't get back pay. When we can and it is legal, we try to employee locals in the small communities we are in, and it is hitting them hard.

gilbar said...

jml,
one of us does NOT understand the word Public employment (and i don't think it's me)
you said.... there is no doubt there is more risk in public employment, but depending on the job, there is more pay as well

more risk in public employment, more pay as well
MORE RISK IN PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT

are you ACTUALLY saying that you consider LEAVING DOD Civilian Service for the same job (Contracting Specialist) with a large company...

means GOING INTO Public employment? your friend (and You) Were in Private employment when you worked for the government, but Then; he went INTO Public employment?

I'm starting to worry about one of us; please re read what you said. Someone help???

JML said...

Public - I see your confusion, sorry, private employment as opposed to civil service. Good thing I'm not running for president, eh?

JML said...

The public is who we serve. We in the Forest Service are all about collaboration. It corrupts our language when we talk to non-agency folks.

gilbar said...

Thanx JML!
I 'knew' what you meant, but read it probably 5 times to make sure i was seeing what it said.

Thanx for taking care of the Forests! please say hi to Smokey, if you see him!

JML said...

Thank you, will do, though you realize Smokey is also on furlough. As is Woodsy Owl. They are seeking a payday loan as we speak. ';0)

tom said...

Whatever the case may be, a working guy can only go so long before he has to get his money or find some different employment. There's a pretty hard deadline to ending this shutdown and it's probably sooner than we think.

stlcdr said...

...the reality that lots of people have to live paycheck to paycheck through no fault of their own.

Oh, I think a lot of the commenters here do fully understand what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck, or even not be paid enough to cover basic living expenses. What they have found is that crying about it (or whining to the media) doesn’t bring in what you need.

People need to learn this lesson, and it often comes the hard way - always (sic) at the most inopportune time. You need to save money to protect yourself against these things. For the federal workers, this is just a storm they need to ride out. Many did not prepare themselves. Learn the lesson.

Sammy Finkelman said...

The one law that Trump agreed to sign was one guaranteeing that the workers would be paid in the end.

It looked like the next turning point would be the State of the Union message on Tuesday January 29 (two weeks from now) in which Trump will make his case and lay doewwn hs conditions for re-opening the government.

But maybe not.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi now wants to cancel (or postpone as long as the government shutdown continues) the State of the Union message.

Her argument is:

https://twitter.com/Phil_Mattingly/status/1085544081504260097/photo/1

1) In September Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen designated the address as a “National Special Security Event.”

2) That means it requires weeks of planning, led mainly by the secret service.

3) But many people have been furloughed.

4) Therefore… it would be unsafe? She doesn’t even say that. She just trails off.

Note: This is actually a false syllogism, because the people involved in planning security have probably not been furloughed.

Pelosi suggests either setting a new date after the government has re-opened, or Trump delivering his State of the Union message in writing.