Federal shutdown will affect thousands of St. Louisans

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – The St. Louis area will really feel the sting of a federal government shutdown.

An estimated 10,000-15,000 union workers will be off the job.

Thousands more will work, including about 5,000 civilian workers at Scott Air Force Base, will go unpaid.   

Tourists will be locked out of the Gateway Arch.  

About 75 National Parks workers at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which includes the Old Courthouse and the Arch will be furloughed.

The gates at the Arch entrance were locked at 6:00 p.m. Monday night, for ‘who knew how long’.  

“We have about 30 employees that will still stay – keep an eye on resources – and public safety,” said Ann Honious of the Park Service, who was among those facing furlough. 

“We have about 2,000-6,500 visitors per day, about this time of year, with more visitation on the weekends than we do during the week.  So it could impact a lot of people traveling to or through St. Louis.

Kasie Nix and her mother, visiting from Louisiana were glad to be among the last to ride up to the top of the Arch.  

They could have waited another day or two.   

“I would have been very upset.  This is what St. Louis is.  You have to come see this when you come to St. Louis,” Nix said.  

“I think they need to take congressmen, representatives, all of the politicians’ paychecks and to not get their salaries until they solve this budget crisis,” said Nix’s mother, Kaye Lessard.   

Federal union workers marched outside of the Cochran VA Hospital in support of those about to be furloughed.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) represents about 650,000 workers from nearly every agency; from the Department of Agriculture to the TSA and Veteran’s Administration.  

“So we are actually here holdingcongress hostage, like they are actually holding us hostage, to do what they promised to do,” said Frances Bruce of the AFGE.   

“We all come into work tomorrow.  But it could be a normal day or it could be a day where we receive furlough papers.  So we go to bed tonight not knowing which that is,” Honious said.  

VA Hospital workers and TSA screeners at airports are considered “essential” workers.  They’re not being furloughed.  They're not sure they'll be paid, either. They've just been told they "have” to work, pay or no pay.

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