The National Zoo may be closed, but businesses in DC are open, and are helping federal workers with discounts and freebies. (Image Source: Reuters)
Yesterday's shutdown of the federal government have hit a particular group of people hard: Government workers themselves. Almost all of the federal employees are likely to face a furlough: Working without pay. Worse off, though, are federal workers declared "non-excepted" or the more common term "nonessential:" They were told to essentially come in yesterday for a few hours to tie up loose ends, then sent home until further notice without any pay. These nonessential federal workers may never get a paycheck at all, despite having a salary, even though their absence was not their fault. Still, furloughed federal employees are getting some relief from local and national businesses during the government shutdown.
In Washington, D.C., several businesses both in and around the city are stepping up to help federal employees furloughed or denied pay. Many bars are offering discounts on drinks or free pints, depending on the time of day, while restaurants are offering specials. One coffee shop, the Daily Dish (sounds like a blog), is taking things a step further: A free cup of coffee to all federal employees, but Members of Congress pay double for their coffee. Washington City Paper, the local free weekly, has been running updates on various establishments giving offers to all federal employees (with proper ID), many of which are lasting for as long as the government shutdown holds.
The benefits for furloughed federal employees do not stop in Washington, D.C., however: Car maker Hyundai announced plans to aid the furloughed employees. Those federal employees that are Hyundai car owners already will be able to defer their payments for as long as they are out of work. Hyundai will also offer a 90-day deferment on any payment to new car owners that are on "unpaid leave," specifically targeting furloughed federal employees.
While, understandably, some of the goodwill is meant as good PR for the businesses, the fact that federal workers are gaining such support from local and national businesses shows that there is at least one force on their side during the shutdown.