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Thomson Federal Prison employees talk on missing two paychecks and the government shutdown

Employees at the the Thomson Federal Prison make sure they come to work so they receive back pay when shutdown ends.

THOMSON, Illinois – President Trump says federal workers will receive back pay as soon as possible and federal prison workers in Thomson are looking forward to getting paid.

Candace Merecer has been asking the same question the past four weeks.

“Can this please end today?” Mercer questions.

She’s a federal employee at the prison in Thomson, Illinois who understand what it’s like to not see a paycheck.

“I’ve been through a shutdown before myself, so I’ve kind of always prepared a little bit for it,” says Mercer.

She also knows that even if the government is shutdown she still needs to go to work.

“We know when it’s over with we will get our back and we have to come to work to get that in order to get that back pay, but we don’t want to see other struggle,” Mercer explains.

Today, she brings her struggles to Congresswoman Cheri Bustos who is trying to grasp what these workers are going through.

“Just this week a busload of some of the highest-level security inmates – meaning these people are tough – week after week these people are going to be coming n and you have hard working men and women who aren’t even getting paid to make sure that our community is safe that our people are safe,” Bustos says.

At this point, prison workers have now missed two paychecks making them turn to other avenues.

“People are depleting their savings, they are maxing out their credit cards, they are putting all of their bills on their credit cards just to make sure everything, but their car payment and mortgages are being paid,” Mercer clarifies.

And as the government reopens for three weeks, workers like Mercer know one thing:

“I said if this goes on another time this is what it’s going to be – federal employees standing in the bread line and that’s sad, that’s really sad,” Mercer says.

The federal prisons are still bringing on new employees, but even that’s a problem because they aren’t getting correct training due to the government shutdown.  Those employees are still working in the prison without full training, which they will receive after February 15th.