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Today is Day 19. Some 800,000 federal employees are affected by the Trump Government Shutdown. These include approximately 420,000 workers deemed essential and working without pay, and about 380,000 workers who have been furloughed without pay. These numbers do not include workers employed by contractors hired by the government, who are also out of work. While federal employees have been granted back pay after shutdowns ended in the past, contracted workers (including cleaning and restaurant staff) usually do not get back pay.

We will be doing a series of blog posts about the shutdown. This first lets the workers speak for themselves. In the following days, we’ll be covering current or expected impacts on various services, and how the public and workers alike are being affected. And we’ll provide facts about the reason for the shutdown: the Trump wall obsession.

In every corner of the country, workers are sharing their stories about how they have been affected by the shutdown. The twitter hashtag  #ShutdownStories has gone viral. It was apparently started by media outlets seeking, well, shutdown stories, but was quickly overrun by federal workers, their family members, labor and other progressive groups and now, increasingly, members of Congress who are demanding that the shutdown end. 

Thousands of people have submitted stories about hardships caused by the shutdown. Here is a small sampling of their stories.

My children don’t care about walls. They do care about having a warm house to live in, a car to ride in, clothes to wear, and food in their bellies — none of which is possible if their mom can’t go to work.#ShutdownStories

— Sarah Watterson (@SarahReber2013) December 29, 2018

#ShutdownStories my husband is a federal agent, he’s essential. This means he works without pay. He may be paid later, as long as he doesn’t miss a day of work. Our Christmas was cancelled, and he still has to do dangerous work for free. So many people don’t know this. — Kati Wells (@KatiWells11) January 3, 2019


#ShutdownStories It's not only about paying bills, almost 1 miion employees and along with contractors are having their credit degraded so they will be paying more for everything they purchase for years to come.

— Julie Branom (@JulieBranom1) January 5, 2019

Just got a notice that I am now laid off by my small government contracting company, no back pay.. I create e-learning and apps for diplomats. I loved my job. My diplomat husband is essential with no pay, we have a mortgage and a kid with braces. Please end this. #ShutdownStories — Sunny Blaylock (@MalaysiaSunny) January 6, 2019


My Mom just told me her friend is furloughed under the Fed Govt  shutdown.

They had to tell their kids they couldn’t open most of their Xmas presents cuz they may need to be returned to pay rent.

These #ShutdownStories are real.  The stress of not knowing if u getting paid

— CT Mr. SD (@Chris_PoV) December 29, 2018

#ShutdownStories with the holiday behind us, irritated that I can’t get back to work reshaping the nation’s low-income housing to be better and stronger. It’s important work halted by a ridiculous shutdown — G Jungman (@gregjungman) January 4, 2019


My son is 9.  He doesn't understand why we had to postpone our plans for a fun weekend.  I can't afford it. I don't even know how I'm gonna afford my bills. I don't know what to do. #ShutdownStories

— AveryCasp41 (@ACasp41) January 5, 2019

Starting the trendy new Shutdown diet soon from the looks of it. Pretty simple. 1) Eat little and cheap. 2) Find free places to walk/exercise/pace endlessly to pass the time. 3) Lose appetite from all the stress and anxiety. #ShutdownStories — Helen (@OR_Girl) January 4, 2019


I want to go back to work. I DON'T WANT A WALL!!! I'm the sole income supporter for my family. Mortgage Co. won't work with me. May lose my home and the thought of having to stand in line for food is a embarrassing.#shutdownstories @realDonaldTrump

— terry owens (@emi200410) January 6, 2019

#ShutdownStories Both my wife and I federal employees. Tired of being screwed, always the target of presidents. No raise for 3 years in my position and now no 2019 COLA increase as well as no paycheck until furlough over. Trump, learn to negotiate. — Lee f (@Mcselee) January 4, 2019


Fed gov't contractors are the forgotten population affected by this shutdown over a ridiculous wall. If we don't work we don't get paid. There's no retroactive pay for us. #ShutdownStories

— Moh Licious (@Mohlicious) January 3, 2019

“Most of us live paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford to be unpaid and still go to work for long. It is not fair.” #Shutdownstories — Good Jobs Nation (@GoodJobsNation) January 7, 2019


From a friend: Just talked to a TSA Agent. Thanked him for being here during the shutdown. “I’m OK,” he said. “I have a Navy pension.  My coworkers are calling in sick simply because they can’t afford the gas to drive to the airport since they haven’t been paid.” #ShutdownStories

— Amy R. Turci (@AmyRTurci) January 5, 2019

My husband is a federal employee, and a USMC veteran. Not only does he work mandatory overtime, he picks up shifts frequently to help out. They are repaying him for years of government service by providing templates to negotiate our bills. #Shutdownstories — Kraymer (@kraymer_girl) December 30, 2018


It's my 13 th day of no work due 2 shutdown and my sleep schedule is out of wack. I went to bed at 2am reading all the articles about negotiating reopening the government. I wonder if I should apply for unemployment, or update my resume and get a new job. #shutdownstories

— Zoe A Robinson (@stevenszoe1980) January 4, 2019

We are both veterans, husband has 20yrs of service, with 4 combat tours. We will not be able to pay our mortgage if this persists. #ShutdownStories #TrumpShutdown — Elyce (@SkeptiMe) December 29, 2018


There is not a single government employee who wants this government closed!! Not a single one!! You think I’d sacrifice for my income for your agenda??? Are you insane!! #ShutdownStories @CNN

— Erika Khouri (@coury_coury) December 29, 2018

No federal employee can sustain "months or years" without pay. Most are already hurting. Next payroll date is Jan-16. If this is still ongoing on Jan-17, I say we all have a general #ShutdownStrike. When the government REALLY shuts down, this nonsense will stop! #ShutdownStories — Alternative NOAA (@altNOAA) January 4, 2019


Airport security and customs are filled with the sounds of travelers thanking agents for their service because, you know, a lot of these workers aren't getting paid and Mexico isn't paying them. #ShutdownStories

— Juliette Kayyem (@juliettekayyem) January 2, 2019

#ShutdownStories My son's college said 10 weeks have to pass before they can give us deferment on bills. A co-worker's husband had a stroke due to stress from shut down.  We did not buy Christmas gifts. Those are my 3 main stories. I will spare you all the little hardships. — Rocky (@maaddmomm) January 7, 2019


#ShutdownStories The reason I need my job and pay!! Real people, not some statistic!!! We the American people are who you are hurting by using us as pawns! OPEN THE GOVERNMENT!

— TDelahunty (@tdelahunty2015) January 5, 2019

ICE employee had scheduled paid leave to help move his 4-mo old n wife to a new state, new job position. Now he’s forced to work for no pay and not able to be with his family as they are left to deal on their own, 1000 miles away #ShutdownStories — Lorinda (@MT__Bull) January 6, 2019


Hey guys! Guess what’s non-essential government? Child support! Just tried calling since my last two payments have not showed up... “no one is available at this time” so unbelievable!!! People depend on this money! #ShutdownStories

— Tami Allen (@Tami_Allen2) January 4, 2019

Hey at least you all in DC get free sandwiches or so I hear. Out here on the west coast no one seems to know or care that we can't do our jobs trying to save endangered species, it's depressing, and btw, I'm NOT on strike you bonehead  :(  #ShutdownStories — Teddy (@Harri10721) January 5, 2019


@MarkWarner @timkaine @GerryConnolly My 10 yr old just offered us, both furloughed feds, his Xmas money ($57.16) to order pizza for regular pizza/movie night.  Heartbreaking he is worried although we tell him little and try to stay positive. #ShutdownStories

— S (@Lettersgohere) December 28, 2018

Real people, real impacts: 71-year-old Lila is a subcontractor who works as a janitor, cleaning bathrooms at the Dept of Agriculture. For her, the government shutdown means no work and no paycheck. “I won’t be able to pay my bills, it’s as simple as that.”#ShutdownStories — Heather Graf (@ABC7HeatherGraf) December 28, 2018


Reminder: Thousands of scientists are barred from their #research while the #TrumpShutdown is in effect. Untold numbers of delicate experiments are ruined, with countless others set back significantly. This idiotic action is actively hurting US innovation. #ShutdownStories

— Jess Phoenix  (@jessphoenix2018) December 30, 2018

Wishing my student loans, credit card payments, rent, cable and car repairs were also on furlough. #ShutdownStories — Nicole (@Coleynoelle) January 4, 2019


I need to review an NSF proposal, but can’t access it. These shutdowns can disrupt funding, and thus livelihood of labs. It kills me to think how this impacts assistant profs. Tenure clocks don’t bend for government shutdowns. Maybe they need to. #ShutdownStories

— Jen Heemstra (@jenheemstra) December 29, 2018

CANCELLED: Field tour to dozens of institutions and agencies illustrating how the best available science is conducted and used to protect ecosystems and communities from deadly wildfires (1/3)#ShutdownStories — Sam Prentice (@geodirtdude) January 4, 2019

This article was originally published at the Coalition on Human Needs.

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