Staten Island furloughed workers feeling impact of government shutdown

ELM PARK, Staten Island (WABC) -- Civic leaders and union officials offered their support for two furloughed federal workers at the Staten Island Community Job Center Thursday.

Sean Ghazala was working as a park ranger with the Interior Department at Manhattan's African Burial Ground National Monument when 20 days ago he was among nearly 800,000 federal workers furloughed as a result of the government shutdown.

"You're just sort of helpless," he said.

Ghazala's life has been turned upside down.

"It's turned to cutting back on things you can do without," he said. "It's gotten harder. You can only dip into savings but so much."

RELATED: Have you been impacted by the government shutdown? Share your story here!

Park ranger Kathryn Gilson is also out of work.

"Federal workers are not supposed to be very vocal," Gilson said. "And I'm a little cautious about saying anything, but I am very scared that it will last a long time, which is why I am here."

They are sharing their dramatic changes in their lives, as they draw support here where new immigrants struggle to find work.

"You should not be using workers as pawns," Director of Finance Sasha Foster-Andres said. "The wall is not going to be built on the backs of withheld wages and workers are not going to fall for this nonsense."
The federal workers have gone to great lengths to shore up their finances.

WATCH: Furloughed federal workers on Staten Island speak out


"I was able to delay the paying of my rent and the paying of my student loans, which I will have to pay in full when I do get paid," Gilson said.

Approximately 420,000 are working their federal jobs and not getting paid, putting additional stress on their families. But they are gaining support outside their ranks.

"We are going to stand in solidarity with each other," said Cesar Vargas, a co-director with Dream Action Coalition. "We're going to raise money to show that all workers have the support they need as a community."

The small group is growing in numbers, but stand as one, calling for an end to the shutdown.

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