Shutdown keeps prison guards working without pay

Shutdown keeps prison guards working without pay

Posted:
Approximately 350 employees at the United States Penitentiary in Pine Knot, KY, are being asked to come work despite not getting paid. Approximately 350 employees at the United States Penitentiary in Pine Knot, KY, are being asked to come work despite not getting paid.
"We've got staff putting their lives on the line, protecting society and they're asked to do it free," said American Federation of Government Employees Council of Prison Locals president Don Peace said. "We've got staff putting their lives on the line, protecting society and they're asked to do it free," said American Federation of Government Employees Council of Prison Locals president Don Peace said.
"I would hate to send my child to bed hungry, because the government is not paying us," said American Federation of Government Employees Council of Prison Locals Vice President Sam Kitchen. "I would hate to send my child to bed hungry, because the government is not paying us," said American Federation of Government Employees Council of Prison Locals Vice President Sam Kitchen.
"I just didn't think it would affect me as much it has as. I just didn't realize how many people were getting at us and then businesses started slowing down," said Ella Meauws, the owner of Honey's Restaurant in Pine Knot. "I just didn't think it would affect me as much it has as. I just didn't realize how many people were getting at us and then businesses started slowing down," said Ella Meauws, the owner of Honey's Restaurant in Pine Knot.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

PINE KNOT, KY (WATE) – Approximately 350 employees at the United States Penitentiary in Pine Knot, KY, are being asked to come work despite not getting paid.

Every single employee at the all-male, high-security federal facility has been working without pay since the government shutdown began.

"We've got staff putting their lives on the line, protecting society and they're asked to do it free," said American Federation of Government Employees Council of Prison Locals president Don Peace said.

Local union president Don Peace is a warehouse worker at the prison and even traveled to Washington last week to petition Kentucky's congressman. He says many employees live paycheck to paycheck.  

"I would hate to send my child to bed hungry, because the government is not paying us," said American Federation of Government Employees Council of Prison Locals Vice President Sam Kitchen. "Do I buy groceries or do I come to work? Out of all our staff, we are in the same boat."

Union leaders say federal penitentiary employees are required to have a working cell phone and can be disciplined for not paying certain bills.

Workers today did receive a partial payment Tuesday for five days of work in September right before the shutdown.

The Department of Justice oversees the Dept. of Prisons and says prison industries and the commissary have enough money to cover a lapse during the shutdown.

The union present says an average starting worker at the penitentiary makes $30,000, an average veteran employee can make around $57,000.

The effects of the shutdown have extended beyond the prison.

McCreary County has close to 700 furloughed federal workers at the civilian conservation center, a national forest and national park, according to a county official.

Employees at Honey's Restaurant in Pine Knot are worried about what the shutdown and lack of federal workers spending money are doing to its business.

"I just didn't think it would affect me as much it has as. I just didn't realize how many people were getting at us and then businesses started slowing down," said Ella Meauws, the owner of Honey's Restaurant in Pine Knot.

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