DUNMORE, Pa. -- About 3,000 workers at federal prisons in Pennsylvania are among those working without pay during the partial shutdown of the U.S. government.
Workers told U.S. Senator Bob Casey that they are struggling just to pay their bills and feed their families.
Federal prison workers missed their first paycheck last Friday and some tell us they borrowed money from friends and put off rents, mortgages, and car payments. They say their struggles will be really tough if they miss one more paycheck.
Behind the walls of USP Canaan near Waymart live some of the most dangerous inmates in the U.S. prison system.
"We're being made to go to work in dangerous environments without receiving a paycheck on a timely basis," said Courtney Bogarowski, a single mother of two who runs counseling programs for inmates at the federal prison in Wayne County.
Bogarowski says her struggle to keep her home life stable will be a challenge if the federal shutdown lasts another week and costs her another paycheck.
"We'll have to ration the food. I have to be careful about the things I purchase, obviously. It's going to mean rent will probably be late, car payments, insurance payments," Bogarowski said.
Darrell Palmer is the vice president for the union representing federal corrections workers in the northeastern U.S. He told Sen. Casey to do everything possible to end the shutdown.
"I don't blame anyone for this. I truly believe it's both sides and that someone needs to make a concession and figure this out," Palmer said.
Bogarowski stood behind Casey at the meeting in Dunmore as the senator called for an end to the shutdown.
"When will I receive my next paycheck?" she asked.
Bogarowski fears she soon won't be able to afford to buy gas so she can drive her car to a job for which she's not getting paid.
"It's an excellent job to have, and then, missing paychecks it's not something you really expect when you sign on for the job."
Union leaders are telling federal prison workers to call their senators and congressmen and demand an end to the government shutdown, but many prison workers fear that may not be of any help.