By The Seattle Medium
Gov. Jay Inslee recently announced that Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) is expanding unemployment benefits to federal workers who, since the partial shutdown began, were deemed “essential” and were directed to work full-time without pay. This includes TSA agents, Coast Guard personnel, border patrol agents, food safety inspectors, FBI agents, and many others.
Since the partial shutdown began, only those federal workers who were furloughed and not working were eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits. Inslee said this is an inexcusable situation that state leaders should not accept.
“There are nearly 16,000 Washingtonians who are about to lose a second paycheck because of this record-long federal shutdown,” Inslee said. “Thousands of those Washington-based federal workers are being told they must work anyway, and therefore have no option but to hope this shutdown ends. It is wholly unacceptable, and Washington state will not stand by while our public servants work day after day while struggling to make ends meet. We have got to prioritize people over politics and end this shutdown.”
“It is unconscionable that the president is turning these public servants into his political pawns, added Inslee. “We will take care of Washingtonians, even if the president won’t.”
According to officials, impacted federal worker can file your claim now by going to the ESD website.
ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine said their first preference would be an immediate end to the prolonged and painful shutdown, followed by federal protection for the workers.
“Absent movement on any of these options, we’re taking action to protect those workers who are forced to work with no paycheck, no safety net and no ability to find alternative work during this time,” LeVine said. “It’s the compassionate and responsible thing to do.”
Numerous businesses are also stepping in to provide financial relief to federal workers impacted by the shutdown. Inslee and LeVine hosted a roundtable Thursday with several business leaders who detailed their efforts to help struggling workers who have gone weeks without pay. The business leaders came from varied industries such as banking, telecom, utilities and health care.
“It’s impressive to see so many businesses and organizations stepping up to help in so many ways, big and small,” Inslee said. “Companies are deferring payments or waiving fees, providing no-interest loans and finding other creative ways to help workers stay afloat during this difficult time.”
This article originally appeared in the Seattle Medium.