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FCI Sandstone Employees Struggle Financially as Shutdown Nears One Month Mark

Employees at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sandstone are having to make tough decisions as they continue to work without pay.

The partial government shutdown inches closer and closer to the 30-day mark, but neither side seems close to a deal to put it to an end.

This has caused federal workers to miss one pay period leaving them to scrape the bottom of the financial barrel and cause feelings among employees to take a turn.

Steve Schneider said, "The morale has gotten pretty low, and people are having a hard time making their bills."

Schneider is an executive board member for local FCI union 683. He explained to WCMP that correctional officers are still required to work their regular shifts plus mandatory overtime.

According to Schneider, over 30% of the correctional officers at the facility travel more than an hour to work every day. This has led to employees needing to make the decision between spending their remaining dollars on fuel in order to get to work or buy food and other necessities.

One employee who is left to deal with this problem is Abby Sigfried. Abby is a single mother to a disabled child. They live over an hour and a half from FCI Sandstone.

Sigfried said, "It's coming down to where I can't even pay to get to work. I will not be able to pay my bills even after this is done if I can't make it to work."

Many of the employees live paycheck to paycheck, and the pressure they are under financially has become debilitating.

"It's overwhelming considering there's more to life than my job. I have other things in life to deal with and this just makes things ten times harder. This is my main source of income in life, and if I am not able to pay my bills and I get bad credit, I'm not able to continue to work where I am working," Sigfried told WCMP.

Thankfully, some local businesses are offering options for employees to get food or waive loan fees for a time; however, emails about how to sign up for food stamps have begun to make the rounds with staff, and employees are beginning to take out loans in order to cover their day to day expenses.

Schneider says that he and the other employees just want to go to work and get paid like everybody else.

"We just want to get paid. We don't want to be pawns in the political scheme of things. I feel that both sides are kind of using us as pawns to get their agenda across."

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