DES MOINES, Iowa — For many of the 17,000 federal employees in Iowa, today was supposed to be pay day. But instead, they woke up to their bank accounts quickly dwindling.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is just one of the many federal departments across the country that is currently on shutdown. Their employees are stuck at home on furlough waiting to receive the call to get back to work. From the outside, it may seem like a “forced vacation,” but two Des Moines employees say it’s anything but, spending their hours at home pinching pennies.
“The biggest problem with me is the uncertainty. I don’t know when I`m going to get another paycheck and it’s tough on my kids. It’s tough on my wife,” IRS employee and NTEU member Dan Lundstrom said.
Lundstrom woke up without a paycheck today.
“My kids both have jobs. They are going to help out if need be with the bills. My wife has an income coming in, but as a father and a husband, when you can’t contribute due to no fault of your own, that hurts,” Lundstrom said.
In his ninth year as a federal employee, he’s been through some furloughs, but he says nothing compares to this time around.
“I compromise every day. Whether I’m going to eat lunch or skip it and just eat dinner because you’re not eating three meals a day. You have to make that food last,” Lundstrom said. “My kids are compromising. My wife, bless her heart, she’s compromising. So if everybody else can do it, why can’t Congress?”
Angel Friestad is an IRS employee in the Des Moines area as well. As a single parent of four school aged children, she says times are tough.
“I’m the sole breadwinner for my kids and me. So it’s difficult,” Friestad said. The first thing she thought of on Friday when getting out of bed without a paycheck, was money.
“I was thinking about which family and friends I can reach out to that can be willing to pay my mortgage, my utility bills. How much money do I have left in my checking account to go get groceries?” Friestad said.
She’s doing everything she can to get by until this shutdown in resolved.
“I did file for unemployment. I’ve applied to be a Lyft driver [and] an Uber driver. I`m selling stuff on eBay that I don`t need,” Friestad said.
Friestad says she got a letter two days ago saying they can’t process her unemployment claim because federal wages aren’t kept on file at the state.
Both IRS employees were around for the shutdown back in 2013, but they say this time, it feels different, being just a day away from the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
They say federal workers find out when they go back to work when we do, usually first hearing about it on the news.