Government shutdown affects as many as 700 Kennedy Space Center workers

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — There is never a good time for a government shutdown, but the latest one began shortly before Christmas.

Many federal workers had already spent money on their families or used paid time off that could have been used now.

Kevin DiMeco, of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said the union represents between 600 and 700 Kennedy Space Center workers who are affected by the partial government shutdown.


The workers have been furloughed for almost two weeks.

"Just in a numbers sense, we get paid biweekly, so that's 26 paychecks a year," said Ed Grabowski, a senior logistical specialist. "Every paycheck we miss is 3.8 percent of our pay for the year which is lost. So if we go another two weeks, that's 7.5 percent of our pay."

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Grabowski, who works for a smaller NASA contractor, said he is concerned about whether employers such as his will be able to afford employee insurance premiums if the partial shutdown affecting most of the KSC drags on.

"The longer we sit out, the bigger toll it's going to have," said Mike Polchlopek, an industrial electrician. "It's the whole trickle-down effect, (because) you have all the people who aren't going to work ... They don't go out to eat. They don't want to spend money."

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Michelle Seeley said she and her husband both work at KSC. The environmental health specialist is among a small group of on-call employees.

"It's just a day-by-day situation," she said. "They may call people in as needed. But you don't know. It could be another week or two weeks until I get called again."

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NASA's roughly 2,000 workers are expected to receive back pay for any income lost during the partial shutdown, but there is no guarantee for other federal workers.

KSC positions responsible for preventing harm to life or property remain staffed during the shutdown.