WASHINGTON (WDTN) – For federal workers and contract employees affected by the government shutdown, the crisis is not at the border, it’s right here at home.
Senator Sherrod Brown met with TSA workers in Cleveland Tuesday morning before going back to Washington.
Once he got there, he met with food service workers who work in federal buildings.
Many of them are living paycheck to paycheck and say they don’t know how they’re going to pay rent.
Norma Avila is out of work and doesn’t know when she will get her next paycheck.
“I’m worried because money is running out. It’s running out big time,” she says.
Avila is a contract employee who has worked in the FAA cafeteria for five years. She’s one of the thousands of contract workers like food service and janitorial staff, who along with 800,000 government employees, will not get paid this week.
While federal government employees historically have received back-pay after government shutdowns, contract workers have not.
“I don’t think the President understands how many people get hurt by this,” said Brown.
Jackie Sizemore told Brown about the past 19 years spent working inside the Commerce Department.
She has been through shutdowns before, but she is worried this one will last longer and says she is already down to her last few dollars.
“I could get evicted. I’ll probably have to move to a shelter or something,” she says. “Everything is going downhill right now. Everything.”
Brown and other Democratic Senators are writing legislation to ensure all workers, including contractors, get paid once the government re-opens.
“We need to fix this this week,” Brown says.
But Avila and Sizemore say they just need the President and Congress to end the shutdown now.
“Open up the government and stop playing around with peoples’ lives,” Avila said.
In the meantime, contractors are working with their union to try and get unemployment benefits.
Some workers are not only worried about their pay, but also their health insurance and other benefits.
With no end to the shutdown in sight, some of them may have to try and find another job.