The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 11, 2013

Federal court workers to remain on the job

Kathy Mellott

JOHNSTOWN — Federal court employees will continue to man their posts if the partial government shutdown continues another month – possibly without pay – according to an order filed Thursday by Chief Judge Joy Flowers Conti, of the Western District of Pennsylvania.

According to the order, the Western Pennsylvania District Court is currently in its third year of budget austerity measures, with “significant” workforce cuts demanded by fiscal constraints.

Since sequestration took effect this fiscal year, the district’s federal court, bankruptcy court and probation office have been forced into a shared services agreement to balance cost and personnel concerns.

The district courts span

25 western Pennsylvania counties. Those working in Johns-town’s Penn Traffic Building federal courthouse along Washington Street are among the

160 employees Conti’s order deemed “essential”.

“The dispensing of justice is mandated by the Constitution and essential to government, and the resolution of cases and controversies is the only work of the federal courts,” the order reads.

“Employees of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania and all its ancillary units are hereby deemed essential as part of the support for the exercise of judicial powers.”

Although court employees have been furloughed since the beginning of the month, as

the nonjudicial branches failed to reach a resolution to pay them, all could expect full paychecks through Oct. 17, according to Robert Barth, clerk of courts at the district headquarters in Pittsburgh.

“Starting on Monday, Oct. 21, if a continuing resolution isn’t passed by Congress, all the employees that have been deemed essential will be in a non-pay status,” he said.

They will get retroactive pay once a deal is struck and the government gets back on its feet.

But if the shutdown continues through Nov. 8 – when employees would see the first paychecks covering their non-pay status – Barth said those “essential” employees will start to feel the pinch in their pocketbooks.

Justin Dennis is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at