Shutdown forces federal employees in Springfield to find other income

Willamette National Forest supervisor Tracy Beck said they have close to 400 employees across four districts and the headquarters in Springfield.

Posted: Jan 8, 2019 6:46 PM
Updated: Jan 8, 2019 6:54 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore -- The partial federal government shutdown is impacting workers at the Willamette National Forest, who are finding other ways to help pay the bills.

Willamette National Forest supervisor Tracy Beck said they have close to 400 employees across four districts and the headquarters in Springfield.

Roger Bell and his wife are employees with the Forest Service. Bell said he and his wife have been both been furloughed.

"You have the concerns of: "Am I going to have the money to pay the bills and the mortgage and stay afloat with my family,'" Bell said.

Bell said their last paychecks came on Dec. 29. While he's expecting back pay once the federal government reopens. In the meantime, Bell has filed for unemployment and is doing odd jobs.

"Minor home repairs, a little plumbing stuff, home remolding stuff," Bell said. "So it's enabled me to get a little pay coming in."

Bell said he is still waiting to hear back from the state about his unemployment. Even if he gets the money, he'll have to pay it back if his back pay comes in, but there is no guarantee that those furloughed workers like Bell will get their back pay.

According to the Office of Personnel Management, Congress will have to pass legislation granting employees the pay they missed.

"We've been furloughed before, but it's been for not very long, so we go back to work fairly quickly," Bell said. "But this time with everything going on in Washington, we don't know how long it's going to be."

Bell said he agrees with President Donald Trump on border security but the fighting over the funding isn't helping them.

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