Massachusetts

Shutdown Impacts Government Workers With Disabilities

"A lot of them don't have an understanding of the shutdown and why it's happening."

More than two dozen local workers with disabilities are on the sidelines, and it's now starting to take a toll.

John Sheils is a project manager at the Environmental Protection Agency in Boston. Since the shutdown, no one on his team has been allowed to work.

"The mail crew probably handles 4-5,000 pieces of mail per month," said Sheils.

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Sheils is part of a program at Work Inc. in Dorchester. The non-profit places workers with disabilities and special needs into government jobs in Massachusetts.

"Seventy-five percent of every contract that we have with the federal government have individuals that have disabilities," Work Inc. spokesperson Andrea Mitsch said.

According to Mitsch, 27 of these employees are at home and struggling.

"A lot of them don't have an understanding of the shutdown and why it's happening," said Mitsch.

And if lawmakers in Washington allow this shutdown to continue, Mitsch says workers they've placed at other federal agencies could be impacted.

"They don't have security blankets, so their income is something that they need to pay their rent, and provide for their families." said Mitsch.

Sheils says he and the other impacted workers won't be getting any back pay because they are contractors. He'll be able to maintain financially for a few more months, but is now more concerned about his workers.

"Stop holding us hostage," said Sheils.

If this shutdown continues beyond this month, Work Inc. says it will try to place these men and women into other jobs.

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