Non-essential workers facing imminent furlough rally downtown. Mary Ann Ahern reports.
Monday's CTA train crash may have provided an unintended silver lining for some government workers bracing for layoffs midnight's federal shutdown looming.
According to Tim DePape of the National Transportation Safety Board, employees with that agency are eligible for furlough because they're considered "non-essential" when they are at their desks in Washington.
But when they're in Chicago working on the CTA investigation, their status becomes "essential," and will continue with their work no matter what happens in D.C.
The same can't be said for employees with the U.S. Attorney's office. Spokesman Randall Samborn says if the government shuts down, about a third of their staffers in Chicago would be furloughed.
Criminal prosecutors will continue to work as usual, taking part in criminal trials and conducting ongoing investigations, although they will not be paid.
Administrative and Civil Assistant U.S. Attorneys will also be put on furlough. These worker are responsible for handling civil litigation on behalf of other federal agencies, like the EPA, or civil rights cases, or defense of lawsuits brought against the United States.
"Deadlines will be met, but if matters can be delayed they will be," Samborn says.
Acting U.S. Attorney Gary Shapiro says the irony is that the office pays for itself "three to six times over" thru recoveries in court cases.
Officials say there could be a possible re-evaluation after five business days.
An estimated 52,000 Illinois federal workers could be affected by a government shutdown.
Around 2,500 clerks and other non-essential personnel at the Great Lakes Naval Station are among those who could be furloughed.
Plus, getting items like a new passport or Social Security card could prove to be more difficult as agencies cut back.
Dozens of workers protested on Federal Plaza in the Loop Monday.
Dave Nelson, who works in the railway industry, says he'll definitely be impacted.
"Our faith is in the people we elected, put in office and they just don't want to do their job," Nelson said.
There will be no disruption in the U.S. Mail or for those who serve with the FBI, ATF, Secret Service or the DEA.