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A free breakfast and continued support for federal workers as they miss another paycheck

January 25, 2019

New London — Thirty-two-year-old Shelley Turner has been coming home from her job as a marine science technician at the Coast Guard Research & Development Center and cleaning apartments in her apartment complex, in addition to other odd jobs, to make money.

Turner, of New London, a petty officer second-class in the Coast Guard, has been working without pay due to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, which began Dec. 22. More than 75 percent of the staff at the R&D center is furloughed, and the rest are working without pay.

Turner, who’s served in the Coast Guard for eight years, put up a flier in her apartment complex seeking extra work, and has applied to be a substitute teacher. She said she knows of others who have done the same.

On Friday morning, she got some reprieve as she and her colleagues enjoyed a free breakfast buffet courtesy of Mr. G’s Restaurant for active duty Coast Guard personnel and civilian employees.

“It lifted morale this morning to come and eat together as a team, and not have to stress about paying for it,” Turner said.

The breakfast was Mr. G’s way of thanking a group of people who make up about 15 percent of its clientele, general manager Peter Farnan said. The restaurant is also offering a 10 percent discount to all Coast Guard employees and service members affected by the partial government shutdown. It’s the first time in history that the Coast Guard is working without pay.

Hundreds of thousands of civilian employees missed their second paycheck Friday, after the Senate, a day earlier, failed to pass competing proposals from Democrats and Republicans to end the impasse. That led Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to call Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to his office to explore next steps.

If not resolved by Feb. 1, an additional 55,000 people — Coast Guard retirees and their dependents — will join the ranks of those not getting paid.

Feb. 1 would represent the second missed paycheck for active duty Coast Guard personnel, including cadets at the Coast Guard Academy who receive a stipend twice a month ranging from 350 for fourth-class cadets, or freshman, to 600 for first-class cadets, or seniors. The academy’s alumni association raised money to give cadets 100 on her doorstep, and another offered to buy dog food. She knows of single moms and single-income families who are struggling during the shutdown.

The uncertainty of not knowing when the next paycheck will come is the worst part.

“It’s really hard. When are we getting paid?” she said.

Her coworker, sitting next to her, chimed in: “We hope it’s resolved soon. Please get it resolved.”

j.bergman@theday.com

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