BIG SPRING, TX (KWES) - Employees of the Federal Correctional Institute in Big Spring continue to feel the effects of the partial government shutdown.
Unlike, other federal employees that were furloughed, workers at FCI must report to work without pay.
“You take 40,000 Bureau Prison workers and can't feed their families,” Paula Chaves, President Local Union 3809, said.
The wife of a correction officer, also a stay at home mom, says she is fighting to keep food on the table and doesn’t know how she will pay the bills after this month.
"You know there is not a whole lot in there because we live paycheck to paycheck, and you know it's a difficult thing to not know whether or not you are going to be able to buy groceries,” Mary Quade, said.
A few Federal employees are still being paid in the prison and, believe it or not, so are the inmates.
Inmates are required to work while they serve their time, filling positions such as janitorial duties.
Some inmates are only paid $5.25 a month, but some take away hundreds.
The funds come from a federal trust fund with money previously set aside..
On top of no pay, correctional officers say they are also working overtime.
"The morale is bad enough already, between us correctional officers period. We are being forced to work 16-hour shifts, we are under-staffed anyway, and then on top of that we are not getting paid. You know, its kind of hard for us and we take it home and that's the problem is we take it home as well," Richard Hunt, Correctional Officer said.
According union officials the Big Spring Federal Prison is only 70% staffed due an 18-month, self-imposed hiring freeze from the Bureau of Prisons.
Officials also say that more officers have been leaving the last few months, seven officers quit and six took early retirement.
Due to a small, fatigued staff the prison has the potential to become a dangerous situation.
"You are talking about MS-13, and you are talking about drug cartel, and you are talking about behind our walls, and walls are a tool and they are a great tool, and we could not do our jobs without them, but those walls cannot do their job without us,” Chavez said.
Now union officials are urging the community to reach out to their congressional lawmakers and help end the government shut-down.
"We are being used as pawns, for political reasons,” Chris Mcgee, Local 3809, Vice President said.