Furloughed workers frustrated, angry and looking for help

Shutdown weighs heavy on federal workers

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - Kiristen Randall is a furloughed USGS scientist working without pay.

She applied for state unemployment, which she is entitled to do, on December 28, 2018.

Now, on January 24, 2019, “I still don’t have it," she said.

That unemployment check would likely have been the difference between feeding the family at the grocery store or having to go to the food bank.

Without it, she opted for the food bank.

“It took me a month to realize that we needed help but I did go,” she said. “They were very kind there.”

She’s also facing some anxiety issues over the bills and the fact she wants to get back to work.

“I’ve been having a hard time sleeping,” she said. “There’s just little things.”

Like when her teenage son asked to go out to dinner but she snapped at him they couldn’t afford it.

“It was mean but I’m really on edge,” she said.

She’s not the only one.

Furloughed Forest Service worker Mike Claiborne has been trying to find odd jobs to keep him occupied. But he says his child support is his main concern because it’s taken out of his paycheck automatically.

“Without a paycheck, there’s no child support,” he said. “If the state can’t take support, regardless of the reason, I’m breaking the law.”

He said the state told him he would have to pay fines and fees for being in arrears.

Paul Stapleton-Smith, the Chair of the Pima Area Labor Federation said “They’re desperate, they’re frustrated, they’re angry and some are absolutely terrified.”

They will get a chance to let off some steam at a rally which will be held in front of the federal building in downtown Tucson on Friday, Jan. 25 at 1 p.m.

Randall will be there.

“I considered making a sign but I’m afraid it would end up kind of snarky,” she said. “I have an American flag I’m going to bring, I think I’m going to bring an American flag.”

After the shutdown and all she’s going through, she feels that’s best.

“I feel strongly about public service,” she said. “It’s what I’m doing.”

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