TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - As the partial government shutdown bleeds into a third week, federal law enforcement officers right here in the Wabash Valley are wondering when they'll see their next paycheck.
Terre Haute, Indiana is home to a Federal Correctional Complex. It includes a United States penitentiary, federal prison camp and the only federal death row in the nation. Roughly seven hundred officers work in the complex to protect the public from three thousand of the country's worst criminals.
Employees of the complex are essential and are required to come to work even during the partial government shutdown.
Correctional Officer and AFGE Local 720 President Kenny Swick says, "We have to go to work. We don't just open the doors and the inmates just get to leave and when the furlough’s over they get to come back. We have to man those posts. We have to man our positions."
Employees and unions reps say they are already feeling the pinch. They explain while public perception may be that they will get paid eventually, it’s just not that simple.
AFGE Local 720 Treasurer Steve Markle says, "The thing about it is the unknowing when this is going to end. So, basically, you're looking at the money that you have right now in your account, post Christmas, and how long can you survive on that income."
Faced with bills due right now, federal employees were issued sample letters they can send to creditors.
Swick says, "It's not worth the paper it’s printed on. Bill collectors don't care. It's a very generic form. To me, it's very sad that the government expects that it's going to make a difference with creditors because it doesn't."
To make matters worse, during the shutdown, employees cannot use vacation time, sick time or family leave without risking the loss of pay because they are not physically at work.
Markle says, "It feels like we are the pawns on a game board. Basically, there's a game being played in Washington, D.C. We're the pawns. They're still getting paid to go to work. Their staff's getting paid to go to work. We're still going to do our job as federal law enforcement officers but again, we just know when our pay will come."
Swick says, "We elected these people to go to D.C. to do a job and we would like people to start contacting their local representatives to tell them it's time for a compromise, get on it."
Here’s how you can reach your elected leaders:
Sen. Todd Young (202)224-5623
Sen. Mike Braun (202)224-4814
Rep. Larry Bucshon (202)225-4636
Rep. Jim Baird (202)225-5037
Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (202)225-5315
Sen. Dick Durbin (202)224-2152
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (202)224-2854
Rep. John Shimkus (202)225-5271
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