Gov't shutdown taking heavy toll on Triangle federal employees


With concern turning to anger, a protest took place at Research Triangle Park Monday morning and federal correctional officers in Durham and Granville counties are now demanding an end to the budget impasse.

Melvin McLawhorn and D.R. Johnston are two of the 1,500 federal workers at the sprawling correctional facility in Butler not getting paid due to the federal shutdown.

"It's already a dangerous job, we already don't have the staffing to protect each that's compounded by the indignity of having to do it with no pay," said correctional supervisor Dennis Johnston.

Correctional workers at Butner are considered essential to public safety so they cannot be furloughed, but under the law, they also cannot be paid during the shutdown.

Last week, workers received partial paychecks, but until the shutdown ends, they will have no more pay days just I-O-U's.

The pressure of paying pending mortgage payments and others responsibilities is hitting workers not just financially but also emotionally.  

"We had a lot of people check in to Employee Assistance to get help for depression. This has truly been one of the most demoralizing experiences I've ever faced," said McLawhorn.

"We don't feel appreciated as is... now we know we're not appreciated," added Johnston.

Meanwhile, more anger over the shutdown was evident at RTP Monday as day care teachers who work inside RTP's federal facility for environmental agencies rallied to end the shutdown.

As Washington creeps closer to a deal, federal workers in and around the Triangle are urging them to hurry up.

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