Several initiatives have been announced in Danbury to provide relief for federal employees and their families affected by the government shutdown. A food donation drive at City Hall and at all Union Savings Bank branches will collect non-perishable food donations now through February 16th. Gas station gift cards are also being collected and will be distributed through the Danbury Health Department.
Among those impacted are the 260 employees at Danbury Federal Correctional Institution, who are working without pay. There are 100 officers and the balance are doctors, nurses, teachers, and the warden.
FCI Danbury Union President Drew Ueberroth says a lot of people are concerned about putting food on the table, paying their mortgage and having enough money to put gas in the tank to get to work. Many are not coming in, making the tough decision on what is best for their families.
Ueberroth says this shut down feels different than the 17-day shut down several years ago. He says neither side is 100-percent right, both sides are wrong. He believes someone else on each of the negotiating teams should be in the room to try to resolve the issue because it's affecting the public and the bigger picture.
If the shut down continues for a more prolonged period of time, Mayor Mark Boughton says SNAP benefits and other meal programs could slow payouts.
There are more than 8,000 federal employees in the state of Connecticut, and an estimated 1,500 have been affected by the government shutdown.
Union Savings Bank is also offering a zero-interest 90 day loan, with 120 day maturity, for impacted workers. The bank will do a credit check, but federal employees just need to provide two previous pay stubs to get cash within 24 hours, equal to five pay periods.