Thousands of federal employees missed their first paycheck of the year Friday as the government shutdown reached day 21 and counting.
In Connecticut, the state Department of Labor announced financial relief is on the way, but only for some.
The DOL announced days ago they would try to offer unemployment benefits to federal employees in Connecticut affected by the shutdown, but Friday they said they had no choice but to turn down the overwhelming majority of applications they’ve seen so far.
Patrick Wynne, a correctional officer, missed his paycheck even though he’s required to do his job at the Danbury Federal Corrections Institute despite the shutdown.
“What I’m going to be doing all day tomorrow is starting to call credit card companies and tell them look I didn’t get paid this week, what could you do for us. You know it’s gonna get bad,” Wynne said.
Richard Dionne is also working without pay as an air transportation systems specialist at Bradley International Airport.
“I’ve actually started breaking into my savings,” he said.
Approximately 1,500 federal employees in Connecticut are impacted by the shutdown. The state DOL is offering some of them employment benefits, but while Wynne and Dionne are not being paid, the fact that they’re working at all disqualifies them from that help.
The DOL said only furloughed employees who are not allowed to work can file for unemployment. A department spokesperson said they’ve received approximately 175 applications so far, but about 80 percent of them are not eligible.
“I can’t collect benefits that I’ve been paying for all these years. And still going to work!” Wynne said.
Wynne is worried some of his coworkers will soon leave their jobs at the prison, which he says is already critically understaffed. He hopes the standoff in Washington ends soon.
“If it goes on another two months, what does my mortgage company say. What do the uh car people, are they going to come take my car?”
The state DOL said they are doing what they can within federal guidelines to help, but even those furloughed employees who can file for unemployment may not see any. The department still needs to be able to request information on those employees, which may be impossible due to the shutdown.