'This is hurting us': How govt shutdown is affecting US workers

The US government shutdown is about to enter its fourth week, but Donald Trump shows no sign of bringing the crisis to an end – so long as senior Democrats refuse to fund his proposed Mexico border wall.

Peace talks between the two parties have so far only fuelled the acrimony, leaving national parks closed, immigration courts suspended and 800,000 workers set to go without a paycheck this month.

It has left thousands of Americans struggling to afford rent, medical bills and even food – and many are now sharing their stories in a bid to force the president to reopen the government.

Hungry families

People all over the US are using the Twitter hashtag #ShutdownStories to showcase the impact the crisis is having on their ability to buy anything but the most basic food items.

One of those affected tweeted a picture of 24 packets of cup noodles, along with the caption: “This is how you feed a family of four during a #governmentshutdown.

“No I am not the first person to be broke or on a budget, but when you’re still required to work without pay, that is wrong and unjust.”

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown tweeted after speaking to an airport worker in Cleveland.

He told the senator: “If you’re the only breadwinner in your family, and to have your kids looking up at you, it’s hard to tell them, we don’t have anything to put food on the table. That’s the hard part.”

Wedding day woes

Michelle Grooms has been tweeting about the impact of the shutdown on her family since it began last month.

It is now just a few weeks until her daughter gets married.

She said: “This is hurting us. Our daughter is getting married 2 February in Louisiana and my husband may not be able to walk his daughter down the aisle or rent his tux.

“This has upset her because it’s been planned for over a year and now she is paying the price.”

Unaffordable medical bills

One father tweeted that his young son was having to go without his medications because of the shutdown.

Under the username R Long, he wrote: “Putting the boy to bed. He’s out of three medications, his sleep aid, one of his muscle relaxers and his anti-rejection medicine.

“It being the beginning of the year, our deductible restarts, therefore we are paying full copays (fixed amounts regardless of what the medicines actually cost) on all three during the shutdown.”

And pet owners are also having to make tough choices.

One woman wrote: “I used to think I would happily go thousands of $$ into debt for my dogs. Today I had to choose between my dog and my house.

“I’m so sorry, Elway. You are loved more than you’ll ever know.”

National parks in turmoil

Across the US, national parks are either closed or have fallen into a sorry state by remaining open without the workers needed to maintain them.

Sky’s US correspondent Greg Milam visited Joshua Tree National Park in southern California, with nobody to collect the entry fee, operate or police the park at peak tourist season.

While many visitors have remained respectful, there have been reports of law-breakers driving off-road, allowing dogs to roam off their leads and even hacking down some of the actual Joshua trees.

Other parks and similar attractions are completely shut.

Teacher Dr Rebecca Barnes tweeted that she was making contingency plans for an upcoming field trip for one of her classes as the destination – the National Ice Core Facility in Colorado – was currently closed.

Staff shortages at airports

There are plenty of grateful airline passengers giving their thanks to airport workers still on the job, with many choosing to stay at home so long as they are not paid.

Amy Turci tweeted after a conversation with a friend who spoke with an airport official ahead of their flight.

“I’m OK,” he said.

“I have a Navy pension. My co-workers are calling in sick simply because they can’t afford the gas to drive to the airport since they haven’t been paid.”

Isabel Perez said she spent more than two hours waiting on the floor of Miami Airport due to staff shortages at customs.

And Carol Maurer said her son thought he had lost something at airport security last Friday, but was unable to check because the lost and found office was not staffed due to the shutdown.

Monthly bills and costly rent

With the shutdown now entering its fourth week, many are facing up to having to face up to tough decisions to pay their monthly bills and rent.

J Brooks tweeted that he was having to dip into his savings to pay his rent for January, while another Twitter user said she was holding onto the last paycheck she received to try and afford rent and bills.

On the other side of the fence, landlord Mike Elliot tweeted: “I’m a small-time landlord.

“One of my tenants won’t be at work at the Forest Service until this gets resolved.

“You know who will suffer? Politicians who thinks this is good policy.”

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