As the shutdown showdown continues in Washington, federal employees across the country are feeling the worst of its effects. Those in West Virginia, especially Kevin Franco and his coworkers at the Federal Correctional Institution in Beckley, are also enduring the pain of working without pay.
“For us to not be compensated… based on our elected officials’ inability to pass a budget is very concerning, to say the least,” Franco said. “We’re hoping for the best and expecting the worst, so to speak.”
Franco also represents his fellow correctional officers and employees as President of the American Federation of Government Employees C-P-L 33 Union. With more than 40 years of experience working in federal correctional facilities, he and his family endured numerous shutdowns in the past. But to him, this one is different.
“[In] prior government shutdowns, it seemed like there was some negotiations between the two sides and there was some positive movement,” Franco said. “I personally have yet to see that positive movement.”
Adding insult to injury is the reoccuring staff shortage, with 52 positions taken away from the Beckley institution last year. In fact, more than two years have passed since its last hire.
“We’ve got to have boots on the ground,” Franco said. “We’ve got to have people in there that get to know the inmates… [and] how they operate. By the administration not filling in these positions within the bureau of prisons, it’s made it very difficult for us.”
At the end of it all, Franco believes resolving the shutdown may be a matter of when, not if.
“I’m hopeful that they do get together… come up with some type of resolution,” Franco said. “Get this federal budget passed.”
Franco encourages everyone to reach out to their congressmen and women.