7/28/2014

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Federal shutdown hard on those who report to work

Federal shutdown hard on those who report to work

BREMERTON, Wash. -- The partial federal government shutdown is starting to take its toll, even on civilian workers who have been kept on the job. Some families tell us they are having to borrow money to make ends meet.

The federal government is telling workers at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton they are "essential." They are being kept on the job while fellow "non-essential" workers are sitting at home. In all, 7,400 of the 11,000 shipyard workers still have jobs. 

But their paycheck is uncertain, and now they're asking, "will the government put its money where its mouth is?" The workers have to report every day, but without a budget agreement there will be no paychecks.

"It's incredibly harsh," said shipyard worker Brian Tucker just outside the gates to the federal instillation. "And it's incredibly wrong.  It's not our fault. It's time (Congress) got their jobs done. Get it together and get things fixed."

With no paychecks coming until a budget is authorized, Tucker said folks will have to use credit cards to stay afloat.

"How would you pay your (bills) if you didn't get paid on payday, right?" he said.

Civilian workers are helping Army soldiers take over their jobs at Joint Base Lewis-McChord with the pay question very much up in the air.

"Hopefully they'll allow me to count this time and pay for it," said Army civilian worker Lucian McLemore. "But, we won't know that until everything is all done." 

As of Thursday, McLemore still doesn't know if he'll be paid.

The fact that essential civilian employees have to come to work means they can't look for jobs elsewhere to fill the gap.

"It affects too many people," said Anna Flott, whose husband is an FAA employee. "He's essential personnel so he has to go to work during this time, but they're giving us an IOU for a paycheck. How are we going to pay the bills with an IOU?"

The Flotts have been featured several years on Steve Pool's "Christmas Parade of Lights,"  but the lights on their Yelm home will probably go dark this year.

"We're not going to be able to afford it," said Anna.

There are roughly 1.3 million civilian employees nationwide still on the job with their paychecks on hold.

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