Federal workers face grim prospect of lengthy shutdown

Updated: 2018-12-28 09:51
A sign declares the National Archive is closed due to a partial federal government shutdown in Washington, Dec 22, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

"That may make the president feel good but the rest of us should be terribly bothered by that, and should work on overtime to end the shutdown now." Government contractors like James, placed indefinitely on unpaid leave, don't get compensated for lost hours.

James said the contracting company he works for gave its employees a choice: take unpaid leave or dip into paid time-off entitlements. But James doesn't have any paid time off because he started the job just four months ago. His only option is forgoing a paycheck.

"This is my full-time job, this is what I was putting my time into until I can save up to take a few classes," said James, who plans to study education and become a teacher. "I'm going to have to look for something else to sustain me." Mary Morrow, a components engineer on contract for NASA, is in the same predicament. In addition to caring for a family largely on her own, she's got a mortgage.

"I have three teenage boys, it's near Christmas time and we just spent money, there are credit card bills and normal bills and it's really nerve-wracking," she said. "It's scary."

As federal employees tell their stories on Twitter under the hashtag #Shutdownstories, Trump has claimed that federal workers are behind him, saying many have told him "stay out until you get the funding for the wall.'" He didn't say whom he had heard from, and he did not explain the incongruity of also believing that most are Democrats.

Steve Reaves, president of Federal Emergency Management Agency union, said he hasn't heard from any employees who say they support the shutdown.

"They're all by far worried about their mortgages," Reaves said.

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