BOSTON (CBS) – Zack Weiner and Mike Nguyen are the lesser known faces of the government shutdown. “I fix copiers, paper jams, replace toners,” said Nguyen Tuesday.
Nguyen and Weiner work the mail room at the Environmental Protection Agency in Boston.
“I’ve been missing work. That’s like the biggest thing I don’t really like right now,” said Weiner.
On any given month, Weiner and his colleagues can process 10,000 pieces of mail. Through a partnership with Work Inc., the largest New England employer of people with disabilities, Weiner has had a job at the EPA for six years. He rents his own apartment in Brookline and lives independently with the help of a caregiver.
“It pays my rent and now that the shutdown is in effect I can’t do any of that,” said Weiner.
But for the better part of 25 days, Weiner and dozens others who have been out of work, not eligible for back pay and at this point, have no option but to wait for the government to re-open.
“They need the safety net. Other folks who may not have challenges like our people might be able to get part time work somewhere,” said President/CEO of Work Inc, James Cassetta. “Our folks need supported employment and case management. Our case managers are on call 24 hours a day.”
Cassetta leads a team that employs and trains 130 people living with disabilities in Massachusetts to work for the federal government as contractors.
They provide support for federal sites across the state including the EPA in Boston and the JFK Library in Dorchester.
“We’re there from 7am to 11pm seven days a week. Managing the entire facility, heating, venting, air-conditioning; making sure the electricity setting up for 300 events every year,” said Cassetta.
For now, Weiner and Nguyen plan to spend their days at Work Inc. There, they can get a warm meal, hang out with friends and try to make sense of what’s happening.
“Thinking about Trump, all he’s doing is being selfish. He’s not caring about people who should be going to work,” said Weiner.
The shutdown will last until both the House and Senate pass a funding bill, and the president signs it. Approximately 800,000 federal workers are furloughed or working without pay.