MELBOURNE, Fla. — How would another government shutdown impact the Space Coast?
- Space Coast contractors often bear brunt of government shutdowns
- During the last shutdown, many contractors lost wages, back-pay
- Transport Workers Union leader says they're always prepared
NASA and the military must maintain employees “critical to life and property,” but as we've seen in the past, contractors bear the brunt.
They are hoping they won't have to again struggle to pay mortgages, rent, bills, and put food on the table.
"At this point, we are cautiously optimistic that the funding is going to stay put," said Kevin Smith of Transport Workers Union Local 525.
It’s funding to pay some 600 contract workers at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station — workers Smith represents.
"But there is an occasional chance someone could get sent home without pay, and we would spend the next few months trying to get them paid," Smith said.
For some, the angst is returning. Smith says when rumors of a government shutdown loom, it's time to prepare.
"We are constantly fighting for every dime that we get, and we are constantly looking for every battle over the hill," he told Spectrum News.
The last shutdown spanned 35 days. Many contractors lost wages and back-pay.
They rallied, and the community held food drives to help families get by.
"We do reach out, as we have today, on the Air Force side and NASA side, trying to begin that conversation, get ahead of the curve," Smith said.
We spoke to a NASA representative, who says the space agency is tracking and discussing a possible shutdown. But they are expecting another continuing resolution to keep the government running.