Furloughed federal workers sweat looming payroll deadline

To most people, it's Tuesday -- but to furloughed federal workers across the US, it's "D day."If a de...

Posted: Jan 9, 2019 12:32 AM
Updated: Jan 9, 2019 12:32 AM

To most people, it's Tuesday -- but to furloughed federal workers across the US, it's "D day."

If a deal isn't struck to end the shutdown by midnight, the government won't be able to make its next payroll. That means workers will have to wait until January 26 at the earliest to get their next salary checks.

Civil servants

Compensation and benefits

Corrections system

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Federal employees

Labor and employment

Prisons and jails

Wages and salaries

Workers and professionals

"Tuesday is D Day," said Terrence Windham, a federal corrections officer in Aliceville, Alabama. "We're trying to do everything we can do to brace for the impact. It's almost like a hurricane."

Windham has worked for seven years at the Aliceville prison, a medium-security women's facility. He's also the union president and a member of the Aliceville City Council. He worries about what the shutdown will do to the economy of his hometown, which counts a population of just 3,218.

"Each of the employees at the federal prison, whether they live here or whether they (do) not, they have a significant impact on the financial aspect here," he said.

The average salary for a corrections officer at the Federal Correctional Institution in Aliceville is about $40,000 to $50,000 dollars a year, Windham and other workers said. That's double the town's median income, which is just under $20,000.

The town relies on the nearly 300 federal prison workers, many of whom drive in from the surrounding areas, to spend money at the town's few restaurants and gas stations. If they're not spending money, the town isn't making money.

"Friday is living on hope," says Heather Bryant, another corrections officer at the prison.

Without her paycheck this week, it will be a struggle to spend money on the gas she needs to drive 30 minutes from neighboring Reform, Alabama. That means she won't be spending any money in Aliceville either.

"I am a single parent, I have two children at home: a 16-year-old, and a 10-year-old," said Bryant. "I live paycheck to paycheck."

With her ex-husband also furloughed, she said she'll turn to her parents for temporary help.

President Donald Trump is set to speak Tuesday night about his proposed border wall. He's said in recent comments that he's prepared to wait months or even years to reopen the government.

That's triggered alarm for furloughed workers, especially in places like Aliceville.

Corrections officer Angie Acklin went through the previous shutdown in 2013, but says this one feels different because she sees no end in sight.

"For someone to say that it could go on for months or years, we don't have months or years," she said. "Our creditors are not going to give us an IOU. I talked to one this morning and was like, 'Hey, can we work this out?' And they basically said, 'I'll see you in court.'"

She added that she's frustrated with lawmakers leaving her without a paycheck this week and blames both sides for the shutdown.

"Money unifies everyone -- it's not about red or blue it's about green," Acklin said. "If someone asks 'are you for or against the wall?' I say 'I am for getting paid and I'm against not getting paid.'"

This year the town was set to break ground on a 40-unit housing rental project intended to entice prison employees to live in Aliceville and spend their salaries in town. But that too is stalled with the shutdown.

According to the president of the chamber of commerce, Edgar Pruitt, the government closure has held up the USDA rural housing grant he needs in order to break ground.

"If I can't get that document by ... mid-February, my project won't happen this year," Pruitt said. "Businesses who were depending on that housing will have no choice but to move on. They can't wait."

Windham, Bryant and Acklin say they resent being used as "pawns" and repeatedly urged lawmakers to do their jobs.

"Even though we're not getting paid right now, we took an oath and we have self-integrity and obligation. So therefore, we're choosing to go to work anyway. To do the job that we swore an oath to do and that's what we expect of everyone involved. They swore an oath as well and we expect them to hold up their end of the bargain," said Bryant, adding, "They're elected officials and they need to do the job that they were elected to do."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 15229

Reported Deaths: 723
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds99925
Lauderdale73561
Madison72023
Scott65012
Neshoba63038
Jones59825
Forrest55338
DeSoto5337
Rankin4217
Leake42112
Holmes39728
Copiah3104
Jackson30513
Attala29216
Yazoo2734
Newton2714
Leflore25831
Harrison2577
Lincoln25628
Monroe25525
Lamar2355
Oktibbeha23512
Lowndes2119
Pearl River20931
Pike20211
Adams19615
Noxubee1856
Wayne1771
Warren1719
Washington1687
Covington1652
Bolivar16011
Jasper1574
Smith15011
Lee1496
Kemper14411
Clarke14318
Chickasaw13312
Lafayette1314
Coahoma1214
Carroll11711
Marion1159
Clay1124
Winston1121
Claiborne1112
Lawrence1021
Simpson1010
Yalobusha905
Hancock9011
Tate891
Grenada893
Wilkinson889
Itawamba877
Union835
Marshall833
Montgomery831
Sunflower813
Jefferson Davis772
Tippah7311
Panola703
Webster691
Calhoun644
Humphreys607
Amite601
Walthall550
Tunica543
Prentiss523
Perry503
Choctaw432
Jefferson421
Tishomingo320
Pontotoc323
Stone300
Franklin282
Tallahatchie271
Quitman260
George251
Alcorn171
Benton150
Greene121
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 17359

Reported Deaths: 618
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2191115
Jefferson1780102
Montgomery163238
Tuscaloosa73814
Marshall6879
Franklin5457
Lee54033
Shelby50319
Tallapoosa42364
Butler40217
Chambers35325
Walker3442
Elmore3398
Madison3274
Baldwin2839
Dallas2603
Morgan2511
Etowah24811
DeKalb2433
Lowndes23812
Coffee2291
Sumter2206
Autauga2164
Houston2094
Bullock2034
Pike1980
Colbert1782
Russell1670
Marengo1636
Lauderdale1612
Hale1598
Calhoun1543
Choctaw1518
Barbour1501
Wilcox1447
Clarke1422
Cullman1260
Randolph1257
Marion12111
St. Clair1181
Pickens1114
Dale1100
Talladega1093
Chilton1001
Limestone940
Greene944
Winston880
Covington771
Jackson772
Crenshaw763
Macon754
Henry742
Bibb721
Washington686
Blount611
Escambia573
Lawrence480
Geneva400
Conecuh391
Coosa381
Monroe372
Perry370
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar230
Fayette150
Cleburne141
Unassigned00
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