Federal contractor living off ramen noodles during shutdown

January 13, 2019 - 2:53 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) – As the federal shutdown entered a 23rd day Sunday, affected workers joined Democratic leaders and union officials to tell their stories at a news conference on the Lower East Side.

Keith Polite is a security guard at the National Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan.

He said he’s a contract employee and that not only is he not getting a paycheck like federal employees, he also won’t get back pay when the shutdown ends.

He said he’s changing his eating habits to deal with the weeks-long shutdown and “just cutting back drastically as much as I can.”

“Staying home, eating ramen noodles, you know like college food, you know you get like three for $1,” Polite said.

Anthony Tseng is an environmental engineer for the EPA. He says he doesn’t know when he’ll get paid again.

“As a single father, it’s very sad to look in my kid’s eyes and say, you know, ‘Everything’s going to be okay’ – because I don’t know if everything’s going to be okay,” Tseng said.

Polite and Tseng were joined other workers, union leaders and representatives, including Rep. Nydia Velázquez. 

Velázquez blames President Trump for the shutdown and his demand for a border wall.

“One person in Washington has decided to throw a political temper tantrum,” Velázquez said.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney says 14,000 federal workers alone, from food inspectors to park rangers, are furloughed without pay.

“Workers should not be held hostage,” Maloney said.