BUFFALO, NY - As the federal government is Western New York's largest employer, it stands to reason there would be a lot of layoffs locally due to the partial shutdown of the U.S. Government, as a result of a budget dispute in Congress.
With so many federal workers here, the number furloughed collectively could be in the thousands.
Precise numbers are hard to come by however, in part because even agency's like the U.S Office of Personnel Management, which concerns itself with such things, is itself affected by the shutdown.
A call to its headquarters in Washington D.C. was met with an answering machine message, explaining that "due to the lack of appropriation, we are unable to answer your questions."
Several workers at a federal building on South Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, which serves a variety of federal agencies, told WGRZ-TV they were summoned to report to work on Tuesday, but only long enough to sign their furlough notices, before leaving.
It was a different story, however, at the Buffalo District offices of the Army Corp of Engineers.
"As much as we don't want to see anybody go on furlough it is a welcome surprise that at least for right now there's been a temporary reprieve," said American Federation of Government Employees local 2930 President James Dean.
Though told last Friday to expect up to sixty of the 250 members of his bargaining unit to be furloughed, only six interns were told to go home on Tuesday.
Dean said it was his understanding that the Army Corp is using surplus funds to keep workers on the job
"I believe the corps of engineers is to be commended for exploring all the measures that are available to them to use the monies that they do have to keep us employed," he said.
For how long they will be able to stay employed, Dean cannot say...which is why he wishes Congress members, who are not subject to being furloughed themselves, would get their act together.
Asked if he thought members of Congress had let federal workers down, Dean replied, 'I believe they have... we have families, we have bills to pay, we do our job we're asked to do, and for Congress to not do their job and keep us funded...that's bothersome."