IRS, Air Traffic Fuxxored By Shutdown As President Sits On Thumb
With the government shutdown now entering its fourth Year of the Red Bird, things are looking grim. Citing hardships caused by being unable to afford childcare or transportation, IRS workers are staying out of the office even after being called back to work. A shortage of air traffic controllers caused delays at airports all over the northeast, including a brief shutdown of La Guardia airport in New York. Unpaid FBI agents were forced to handle Roger Stone this morning even though he had not been inspected for disease (they have our thoughts and prayers).
So any minute, the "president" is going to come out and either announce he'll stop standing in the doorway of reopening the government, or he is going to balk at having to do a thing he does not want to do. It could be anything! No one can know! Here are the items today that have gotten him to the point of ??? ... PROFIT!
As we mentioned the other day, IRS workers have a clause in their work rules that allows them to request an exemption from being called back for unpaid work if it would cause them a hardship, which just goes to show why strong unions are good for people. Those exemptions have to be granted by managers, too! The Washington Post reports plenty of IRS workers are saying the hell with this crappy circus, we're not playing:
The Trump administration ordered more than 30,000 employees back to work unpaid to prepare for tax filing season, which is set to begin next week. But of the 26,000 workers called back to the IRS division that includes the tax processing centers and call centers, about 9,000 workers could not be reached and about 5,000 more claimed a hardship exemption, IRS officials have told members of Congress[.]
And as tax season gets underway, that's definitely having an effect, despite Donald Trump's dumb lies that the federal workforce all agrees with him about the need for WALL.
In the call centers, which answer taxpayer questions over the phone, only about 35 percent of calls are being answered, IRS officials told congressional staff, according to one of the aides. The initial plan for filing season was for 80 percent of calls to be answered. The average call time, of 7 to 10 minutes last filing season, has jumped to 25 to 40 minutes.
The IRS is also losing 25 IT staffers every week since the shutdown began, with many finding other jobs, one House aide said, citing the IRS officials' briefing.
Here is a government IT joke we just thought of: Trump's tried turning the government off, but he really needs to turn it on again. Thank you, we'll be here all week but the IRS workers won't because they can't afford to gas up their cars, and they also can't try the veal or any other named meat.
In Kansas City and St. Louis, about 1,700 account management workers were recalled without pay, but Shannon Ellis, president of the National Treasury Employees Union's Local 66, said just under 600 have actually clocked in to crunch numbers without pay.
The worker are missing shifts because they cannot afford the commute or child care, she said — and empty desks almost certainly mean delayed refunds.
"People are panicking," she said. "It's scary. It's getting worse every day."
One Kansas City IRS employee, Rosemary Bruscato, said "the majority" of her co-workers had taken hardship leave like she has:
She pays about $20 weekly to fill up her Ford Focus.
"That conversation was less than two minutes long," she said. "There were no questions. Nothing that would make you feel uncomfortable. They just said, "Okay, you don't have to report to work."
Guess none of her colleagues have tried just asking local stop-n-shops to let them fill up their tanks for free like the "president" suggests. We can only assume Team Trump is going to impose a work requirement for such work exemptions.
Turns out that in addition to the slowdown for taxes, there were also big slowdowns on taxiways today as airports all over the Northeast were hit by a shortage of air traffic controllers.
The delays were cascading along the Eastern Seaboard, reaching as far north as Boston. But La Guardia was the only airport that had been closed off to departing flights from other cities because it was so crowded with planes taking off and landing on a weekday morning. Delays on flights into La Guardia were averaging almost an hour and a half, the F.A.A. said.
The delays seemed to be easing late Friday morning.
The controller shortages weren't actually at the airports that experienced the slowdowns, however. The FAA said the airports in New York, including La Guardia, all had their normal complement of tower and ATC staff. But because the modern air traffic control system is all interconnected, one small foulup can have huge ripple effects, and that's what apparently happened today.
The F.A.A. said it was slowing traffic in and out of the airports because of staffing problems at two of its air-traffic control facilities on the East Coast, one near Washington and one in Jacksonville, Fla. Those facilities manage air traffic at high altitudes.
The agency said there had been a slight increase in the number of controllers calling in sick at those facilities on Friday morning.
It's all one big carefully coordinated machine, and if any parts go haywire, the whole system can be bogged down. Which, as you may have noticed, is what the flight attendants' union says is the way to get this fucking government shutdown ended: with a general strike. The union has also noted that unpaid air traffic controllers are making the system not just inconvenient, but outright dangerous.
In a statement today, Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell if he was paying attention.
Worth noting: While air traffic controllers and TSA screeners are government employees and therefore prohibited by law from striking, flight attendants and pilots and lord knows how many other transportation union workers are not, and a work action called in the name of safety would bring much of the industry to a stop. And frankly, we bet most travelers would be relieved if pilots and aircraft crew walked out.
Or Trump caving to Madam Speaker. Either one.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.