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October 3, 2013

N.H. senators donate pay; furloughed workers worry

Shaheen, Ayotte donate their paychecks

Both of New Hampshire’s U.S. senators have chosen not to be paid during the government shutdown. They join hundreds of thousands of federal employees who are not getting paychecks.

U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H, and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., announced they would donate their entire paychecks to Granite State charities during the shutdown.

For many, forfeiting their pay was not a choice.

“We had heard the rumors,” said Michelle Gauthier, a management and program analyst for the Federal Aviation Administration. “But everything was hush hush. We didn’t know which way it would go.”

But Tuesday morning, Gauthier received the news she dreaded.

Gauthier was labeled a non-essential employee and told not to report to work. She estimated 25 percent of her colleagues in Nashua were furloughed.

“They told us to just sit home and listen for the news,” the Derry resident said. “But it wasn’t clear, so I called my boss to see if I was to come in to work or not.”

The answer was to stay home.

Derry resident Lori Gallant, a customer service representative at the IRS in Andover, also wasn’t given much warning.

“My shift is from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m,” said Gallant, 37. “When I left work, I was just told to call the emergency hotline to see whether to go into work.”

For Gallant, who has worked for the IRS for six years, any length of time without work is a struggle.

“Many of us work paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “We don’t plan on something like this. You think you have a secure job.”

Gallant isn’t the only one in her family on furlough. Her father, Frank Gallant, 61, of Derry also was ordered to stay home from the IRS.

“Right now, we’re just all hoping we can get back to work,” the 10-year employee said. “But all the politicians are just standing by their principle. But that principle doesn’t help me. They are out of touch with the real life of this country.”

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