Flags are raised on U.S. Coast Guard buoy tenders for reveille before the start of the Buoy Tender Olympics at Station Juneau on Aug. 22. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Flags are raised on U.S. Coast Guard buoy tenders for reveille before the start of the Buoy Tender Olympics at Station Juneau on Aug. 22. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Some Coast Guard employees furloughed, others working without pay during shutdown

Almost all civilian employees in Juneau sent home

Dozens of Coast Guard employees came to work the day after Christmas only to find that they’d been furloughed until the partial federal government shutdown is over. Even the ones who are working might not be getting paid anytime soon.

Fifty-three civilian employees in Juneau were furloughed, Coast Guard Public Affairs Officer Lt. Brian Dykens said in an interview Wednesday. That’s almost all of the civilian Coast Guard employees in Juneau, as Dykens said there are 59 civilian positions between Sector Juneau, the 17th District and Civil Engineering Unit (CEU) Juneau.

He said these furloughed employees come from “a vast array of departments and jobs,” including information technology, engineering, maintenance and others. The remaining six civilian employees are working, but Dykens said employees will miss their next paycheck if a solution isn’t reached by this Friday. The next payday for Coast Guard employees is Dec. 31.

The Coast Guard’s essential services — such as search and rescue and environmental response — are still funded, Dykens said. Higher-ranking Coast Guard officials were unavailable Wednesday to provide specifics about where that funding comes from. The bottom line, Dykens said, is that the Coast Guard will continue to be there if someone’s in danger.

“We don’t know how long the government shutdown will last,” Dykens said in a statement, “but we have a plan to maintain the essential safety, security, and environmental protection services the public expects from the Coast Guard. We will continue to monitor the situation and, if necessary, adjust our operations to ensure national security and to protect life and property.”

[Coast Guard rescues injured hiker off Herbert Glacier]

The shutdown stems from an impasse between President Donald Trump and members of Congress about the nation’s budget. At the center of negotiations is the funding of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The partial shutdown has about 38,000 federal employees on furlough and 420,000 employees working without pay, ABC News reported this week.

Rear Admiral Matthew T. Bell, Jr., the commander of the 17th District, said it’s never a good time to lose funding, but it’s even more pronounced around the holiday season.

“I’m personally concerned for some of our more junior members and their families making ends meet during the lapse,” Bell said in a statement. “We’re ever watchful to ensure we have the necessary resources in place to help them if the need arises.”

There are a few options for Coast Guard employees who are struggling financially. The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance program has money set aside to help employees and their families with money. Dykens said there are also opportunities with banks and other organizations to help Coast Guard employees if need be.

NBC News reported Wednesday that 42,000 active-duty Coast Guard members remain on duty, and that the Coast Guard is the only branch of the military whose employees will go without pay during the shutdown if there isn’t a solution by Friday. Dykens said it depends on what the details end up being when negotiators in Washington, D.C. finally come to an agreement, but he and his co-workers hope they will be given back pay for the work they’re doing now.

For now, he said, they’re remaining at their posts despite many of them expecting not to be paid next Monday.

“The public expects us to save lives and protect the environment,” Dykens said.


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


More in Home2

Passengers of the Norwegian Bliss look out across downtown Juneau as they wait to disembark on April 17, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: Juneau’s economy is not on the line — Ship-Free Saturdays is about better balance

Judging by the “Save Juneau” posters one would think that Juneau’s economic… Continue reading

An orange-crowned warbler looks for bugs on a willow (Photo by K.M. Hocker)
(Juneau Empire File)
Community calendar of upcoming events

This is a calendar updated daily of upcoming local events during the… Continue reading

The Pinkas Synagogue, the second-oldest building in Prague. (World Monuments Fund photo)
Living and Growing: Connecting to family ancestors through names of strangers on a wall in Prague

“Prague never lets you go…this dear little mother has sharp claws.” —… Continue reading

Individual eggplant parmesan rounds ready to serve. (Photo by Patty Schied)
Cooking for Pleasure: Individual eggplant parmesan rounds

These flavorful eggplant parmesans are a great side dish, especially served with… Continue reading

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan addresses a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature in the House chambers on Feb. 7, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Sen. Sullivan sinks to a new low

Last week, Sen. Dan Sullivan mimicked Donald Trump’s endless stream of baseless… Continue reading

Members of local business organizations greet cruise passengers with maps and other handouts as they disembark from the Norwegian Bliss on April 25, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire file photo)
A call for collaboration, not restrictions on cruise ship tourism

Please don’t sign. I feel it is time to speak up about… Continue reading

Most Read