Coverage of the stalemate in Congress that forced the U.S. government to a standstill

Federal Shutdown Hits Workers, Businesses

Union representing prison employees says frustration is building over shutdown, lack of paychecks

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    NEWSLETTERS

    As the federal government shutdown enters its fourth day, the impacts are being felt by different people across Fort Worth.

    Four days into the government shutdown, the effects are being felt by federal employees and private businesses alike.

    Furloughed workers are unhappy not having a job to go, and essential employees who are still on the job but not getting paid are just as frustrated. One local union leader said they're worried about how long the shutdown could last.

    The federal prison in Fort Worth remains open and operational during the shutdown, as Federal Bureau of Prisons employees are considered essential.

    "Pay or not, we're going to do our jobs," said Michael Keen, president of Local 1298 of the American Federation of Government Employees-Federal Bureau of Prisons.

    Keen said frustrations are already rising over the government shutdown.

    "It's frustrating that you're seeing congressmen getting paid while we're not," he said. "And we're not being paid because they can't decide to meet in a room and solve problems -- that's frustrating."

    At On Target Firearms in southwest Fort Worth, president and general manager Jack Wilson is doing what he can to help some furloughed workers.

    "They got furloughed, so I put them on and now they're working, you know, here," Wilson said. "Everybody has been affected, one way or the other, yes sir."

    While he needed the help and knew the workers before the shutdown, he's also feeling the effects. Wilson recently spent about $7,500 on military surplus ammo cans and the shipping costs to move them from Texarkana. However, because the workers at the surplus facility are furloughed, he can't get the items. Ammo cans, items that he can't cash in on while the government remains closed, are a hot item in the weeks leading up to hunting season.

    "So we're stuck here waiting until something happens," Wilson said. "We don't know when that's going to happen."

    Keen said federal employees feel unnecessarily caught in the middle.

    "Don't hold us hostage," he said. "We're being held hostage over this entire issue over health care."

    Keen added that funding the government and dealing with the Affordable Care Act are two separate issues. He said Congress can go after the health care law, but it shouldn't shut down the government and hurt federal employees in the process.

    "When the bills are due, the bills are due," Keen said.

    There are about 500 federal prison workers at Dallas-Fort Worth's three federal prisons, two in Fort Worth and one Seagoville, who are working through the shutdown while not getting paid. Keen said they will be paid when it's over, which they hope is soon.