Federal workers face grim prospect of lengthy shutdown

Updated: 2018-12-28 09:51
Tourists and visitors are unable to visit the National Christmas Tree near the White House due to its closure by the National Park Service because of the ongoing partial federal government shutdown, in Washington, Dec 22, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

Reaves said the shutdown could have consequences that stretch beyond a temporary suspension of salary. Many federal government jobs require a security clearance, he said, and missed mortgage payments or deepening debt could hurt their clearance.

David Dollard, a Federal Bureau of Prisons employee and chief steward for the American Federation of Government Employees Local 709 union in Colorado, said at least two agency employees lost their homes after the 2013 shutdown suspended their salaries.

Bureau of Prisons employees are considered essential, and must work without pay. The agency is already understaffed, Dollard said. Shutdown conditions make everything worse.

"You start out at $44,000 a year, there's not much room for anything else as far saving money for the next government shutdown, so it puts staff in a very hard situation," he said.

"We've got single fathers who have child support, alimony. It's very hard to figure out what you're going to do." Candice Nesbitt, 51, has worked for 1.5 years for the US Coast Guard, the only branch of the military affected by the shutdown. About 44,000 Coast Guard employees are working this week without pay; 6,000, including Nesbitt, have been furloughed.

Nesbitt worked for a contractor but took a pay cut in exchange for the stability of a government job. She has a mortgage, is the guardian of her special needs, 5-year-old grandson, and makes about $45,000 a year, she said. Any lapse in payment could plunge her into debt. "It shakes me to the core," she said.

Associated Press

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