HHS employee Francis Rucio said she has one-year-old twins and is very concerned about the hit on her paycheck. Workers haven't been told yet how many days pay they would lose, but it could add up to as much as 20 percent of their salaries.
Rucio says the first place she'd cut would be from her children's college 529 savings plan. Then, maybe from her retirement funds. "I don't have a lot of discretionary spending."
David Borer The General Counsel for AFGE, the American Federation of Government Employees, says federal workers have suffered enough, after three years of a pay freeze.
"It's needs to stop. They need to stop treating federal employees like an ATM. And they need to deal with the tax loopholes and the other kind of changes that are going to balance the budget," said Borer.
Borer says while the DOW Jones and private sector are doing fine, it's working people, private and federal, who are hurting and will be hurt more when the cuts come.
"Typically, a government worker makes between $50 to 70,000 a year. And if you subtract 5, 6, $10,000 out of that due to a furlough, that's real money. That's money that won't be re-spent in the community by these workers and it's going to have a ripple effect through the local economy," said Borer.
"Everybody's going to be hurt. Yes, we're worried," said Ernestine Barksdale who works in the Chicken and Waffles Food Truckparked near Union Station. She said most of their customers are federal workers.
Some federal workers say forced furloughs imply that their work is not valued and their pay not important. And that makes them angry.
"We're just like everybody else, whether in private industry or the federal government. We need our paychecks. We all work real hard. To be told we're going to be cut one day a week, that's going to hurt, especially the lower grades and I feel bad about that," said Linda Vincent.
The union AFGE says the average federal worker in this area makes around $60,000 annually. AFGE is trying to lesson the hardship by asking agencies to allow employee to chose their furlough days, and also allow those who can afford furloughs to take more on, voluntarily, allowing co-workers who cannot afford them, to keep working. Sort of a furlough swap to help out a more needy co-worker.