Bay Area federal workers call for end to shutdown

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The partial government shutdown is now in its second month and as federal workers prepare to potentially miss a second paycheck, Democratic Congressional leaders from the Bay Area held a news conference Tuesday.

Representatives Kathy Castor and Charlie Crist were joined by several federal employees at Tampa International Airport to discuss the impact the shutdown is having on real people.

"We're not a bargaining chip. We're not playing a game of chicken without paychecks and our lives. And we implore both parties: sit down and negotiate," said Joe Rojas, a union president and prison guard at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex. "It's been stressful and there's a lot of anger because the job that we do."

Hundreds of thousands of government workers could now go a full month without pay if the shutdown lasts through Friday.

Rojas said he and his coworkers risk their lives every day and should not be working for free.

"I've been here for 24 years now and some of my colleagues are applying for food stamps? Really? How insulting is that?" he asked. "Both parties need to get together, knock off with the bickering, sit down and negotiate until the wee hours of the morning and get a deal for us so we can get our paychecks and go back to work."

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Rob Hoss, an air traffic controller, also joined the news conference. His wife works in the same profession and his family is facing some difficult decisions.

"This is an emotional time," he said. "Imagine the amount of stress that I have to take home to my family, my wife brings home to our kids. We have two kids, a 2-year-old and a 10-year-old, and I have to explain to them what this means every day."

Castor and Crist are calling on President Trump to end the shutdown. The president, meanwhile, has said will only come to an agreement that includes funding to a border wall.

Hanging in limbo during the stalemate are federal workers. Last week, Feeding Tampa Bay opened a food pantry for federal airport workers at Tampa International Airport. As of Tuesday morning, the organization had served nearly 1,800 households at the pantry. More than 500 of those are families with children who are working without pay.