Largest EPA Union Prepares for Potential Government Shutdown

AFGE Council 238
For Immediate Release: September 20, 2023
Media Contacts: Nina Wheeler, [email protected]

Largest EPA Union Prepares for Potential Government Shutdown

AFGE Council 238 Provides 8,000 Scientists, Lawyers, Engineers, Inspectors with Roadmap if Deal Isn’t Reached in Congress

WASHINGTON – Leaders of the largest EPA union are bracing for impact in the face of a potential government shutdown, distributing protocols and tipsheets for its bargaining unit employees on how to prepare for a potential furlough if a deal cannot be reached in Congress before the Sept. 30 deadline.

In an effort to support EPA workers and prepare for a potential operational shutdown, leaders of AFGE Council 238 – which represents over  8,000 lawyers, scientists, engineers, and enforcement inspectors, among others – are reaching out to its employees with tips on how to prepare so they can weather a potential shutdown with as little adverse impact as possible. 

A tip sheet sent to employees includes information on health insurance, planned vacation time, looking for outside work during a potential furlough, budgeting for a shutdown and much more. EPA employees are encouraged to sign up for alerts from the union around a potential shutdown. 

 During the 2019 shutdown, approximately 800,000 federal employees were furloughed or went without pay.  In addition to potential harm to federal workers, AFGECouncil 238 is calling out the potentially devastating environmental impacts of a shutdown, with the plug pulled on virtually all enforcement.

Leaders and members of AFGE Council 238 are available for interviews about how a potential shutdown could affect them and the environment and what they’re doing to prepare. 

10 Shutdown Tips for EPA Employees:

  1. You will not have access to your work laptop or email! Make sure you have any personal files saved somewhere else.
  2. To stay up-to-date on shutdown & furlough information – join the Union at this link. Provide your personal email and cell number to your AFGE local to receive updates.
  3. Make sure to request Use or Lose annual leave as soon as possible in case you will need to restore it.
  4. If you want to work outside the Agency during the furlough, contact your ethics officer now.
  5. Print out Leave and Earning Statements (LES) from Employee Express for the last 6 months.
  6. Draw up a crisis budget: prioritize your debts and creditors. If you encounter difficulty paying bills, contact your creditors. Many businesses will offer help to furloughed feds.
  7. Save money where possible. Increase your savings now if you can. Keep in mind resources like food banks, coupons and discounts, and cutting out or pausing extras like subscriptions.
  8. You can Contact TSP if you need a short-term loan (if eligible).
  9. Know that furloughed federal employees will eventually get paid. Furloughed federal employees will receive retroactive pay at the earliest date possible after the lapse in appropriations ends.
  10. For comprehensive guidance about shutdown furloughs, go to