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Federal Employees Grateful To Work Again, But Leery Of Congress

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Derrick Blakley Derrick Blakley
Derrick Blakley is a general assignment reporter for CBS 2...
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(CBS) – Federal workers returned to work Thursday, 15 days after being furloughed.

The deal in Congress keeps them on the job until at least Jan. 15, when the new budget expires.

CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley talks with Chicago workers.

As soon as Chicago’s federal workers got back on the job they were protesting about being tossed out in the first place.

“It was very frustrating. We wanted to work, we have a lot of work to do and we wanted to get back here and do our job,” says Michael Berman, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency employee.

Now, there’s worry that the truce is only temporary.

“Congress can’t agree on lunch, much less a budget,” says John Peterson, another EPA employee.

Speaking of lunch, if federal workers don’t get paid, they don’t eat. The shutdown created a financial bath for owners of the Plymouth Restaurant.

“Our location is close to the Dirksen Federal Building, and it really made a huge effect on us,” Cyndee Aiello says.

Business plunged by 50 percent. Cooks’ hours got cut; so did those of bus boys and servers.

Standard & Poor’s says the shutdown cost the overall economy $24 billion.

Furloughed federal employees will receive their backpay in their next paychecks. But the economic harm caused by the shutdown — those hours lost by servers and cooks at the restaurant, for example –- can’t be wiped away.

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