PDT Staff Writer
Over the last week the subject has dominated local and national news has been the United States government shutdown. As a result of the shutdown, some government employees have been furloughed while some have been furloughed and remained at work like those working at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Ashland, Ky.
In a letter dated Oct. 9, Rick Brewer, Local President of the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1286, told of the conditions of which employees of the FCI are working
“Thousands of federal employees are still showing up for work everyday, despite the fact they are not getting paid during the government shutdown. That includes the 296 staff members at the federal prison (FCI) right here in Ashland,” Brewer said. “Staff at the prison, correctional officers, nurses, psychologists, case managers and food service staff have been working without a paycheck since Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. We can’t just leave, we can’t just walk away and say we’ll be back. Our main concern is to maintain the safety and security of the institution and to protect our community by keeping the inmates inside the fence. It’s a 24-hour operation, 365 days a year, 24/7.”
According to union officials there are 35 people working at FCI from the Scioto County and South Shore, Ky. area.
“Every employee at the FCI is considered essential and therefore exceptions to the furlough. But working without pay is difficult, the bills keep coming in. Our staff are fathers and mothers, they have children they need to provide for, some of our staff are caring for elderly parents. Some live paycheck to paycheck. Our staff still have to pay for childcare, gas to get to work, groceries, etc.,” Brewer said.
He said there are an estimated 35,000 Federal Bureau of Prisons employees are working without pay because of the government shutdown.
“Anxiety among staff is riding high as the government shutdown continues. We continue to do our job as government employees in the interest of public safety. Now Congress and President Obama need to do theirs,” Brewer said. “Congress members and the President need to do what they were elected to do and pass a budget that allows the federal government to function. If Congress fails to pass a continuing resolution, most government offices and work sites will remain closed and the vital work that so many federal employees perform will grind to a halt. This means processing of Social Security and veteran benefits claims will be delayed, there will be no federal research into disease prevention, no processing of visa and passport applications, no family vacations to national parks or museums. The last government shutdown cost taxpayers $1.4 billion. Federal employees are tired of being put in the middle of these political battles. Holding us hostage to the whims of a few elected representatives is a lousy way to govern.”
The Associated Press reported on Thursday afternoon that, “House (of Representatives) Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that Republicans would vote to extend the government’s ability to borrow money for six weeks — but only if President Barack Obama first agrees to fresh negotiations on spending cuts. Under the Republican plan, the partial government shutdown would continue in the meantime.”
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT. The Associated Press contributed to this story.