NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The ongoing federal shutdown is creating hardship for hundreds of New Orleanians who work at one of the city’s largest employers. The National Finance Center in New Orleans East employs 1,000 people, and most have been home for nearly a month now.
The National Finance Center has been a quiet economic force in New Orleans since the mid-1970s, cranking out paychecks to nearly 650,000 federal workers across the country.
“We process payroll for a number of agencies - USDA, TSA and Federal Bureau of Prisons,” said Terrence Johns, a union representative with AFGE Local 2341.
The center also handles payroll for the FBI, the U.S. attorney’s office and the people who guard the border.
“The employees even on the border aren’t being paid right now - the Border Patrol,” said Johns.
But the work of the finance center stopped 19 days ago.
“It’s been difficult for me, financially and emotionally,” said employee Janelle Slack.
Nearly 50 percent of the center’s employees are disabled or military veterans, like Israel Hurts.
“I’ve had to pick up other jobs like Lyft, or other events like staffing,” said Hurts.
The finance center’s shutdown means tens of thousands of other workers are also not being paid.
“We have 800,000 employees across the country who are out of work right now. ...If you have two per household, that’s s 1.6 million Americans,” said Jones.
Furloughed workers hope there is a meeting of the minds soon. And they hope that neighbors who are still working reach out to those in need.
“Reach out to those federal employees in your neighborhood, invite them over to dinner,” said Jones.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission says furloughed federal workers may file with the state for unemployment pay. But it says if Congress approves retroactive pay, that money will have to be repaid. For more information, contact the workforce commission.