ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – Although the government shutdown is ending, many federal workers are still angry that it happened in the first place. A group of furloughed workers protested at the Gateway Arch Wednesday evening to voice their frustration.
USDA employee Lawrence Mullen was among the protesters. He laments, “Oh it’s kept me broke, I’m worried about whether I’ll have a place to stay by the end of the month, rent is due.”
Another USDA worker, Erick Castellos, adds, “I’m the head of my household, there’s four people in the family, basically, this the first time I’ve ever had to file for unemployment. My eight year-old child doesn’t understand why his daddy is home.”
Seventy-five of these federal employees work at the Gateway Arch, but many more non-government workers, with the Jefferson National Parks Association and Metro, help run the Arch every day. Those workers, essentially furloughed as well, will not receive any back pay, according to National Park Service Chief Ranger Jim Jackson.
Jackson hopes the Arch will reopen quickly, but it all starts with word from Washington: “Our Washington office will let our regional office know to reopen, and then the regional office will contact the park here, myself and the superintendent, and then we’ll start contacting employees, and try to get everyone to work, as quick as we can.”
There is also a hotline that national park employees can check for updates.
But even when they do go back to work, federal employees are worried about getting reimbursed for all the time and money they’ve lost. Castellanos explains, “Sometimes what they do is they say yeah, we’ll give them back pay, but then you don’t know when it’s going to come, and we’re getting close to the holidays and everything, so by the time I get out of this mess it’ll probably be next year.”
CNN is reporting that the director of office management and budget says furloughed employees should return to work Thursday.