PEKIN — The partial government shutdown doesn't mean time off for a number of federal employees in the central Illinois area.

For the 250 people who work at the Federal Correctional Institution in Pekin, it means they go to work as they normally would but with one little difference: they're not being paid.

Workers at the medium-security facility that houses 918 male offenders are deemed "essential" employees by the federal government as are many federal employees at Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport.

Across the country, about 420,000 federal employees are categorized as essential and will continue to work through a shutdown. These workers won't receive any compensation until the shutdown ends and lawmakers pass legislation to pay them retroactively.

"Everyone's still showing up for work. We have to work," said Tom Kamm, president of Local 701 of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union in the country with 700,000 members nationwide.

As the shutdown goes into its 21st day Friday, the lack of a paycheck is being felt, he said. "We have people that are talking about getting a second job so they can pay their mortgage," said Kamm.

"We've got single mothers and single fathers concerned about their kids," he said.

An additional problem facing those that work at the prison is that, due to staff shortages, some employees are forced to take overtime shifts, said Kamm, adding that someone who has to work a 16-hour day at the prison has a tough time finding work elsewhere.

"We're short-staffed. We're down from 330 people when we first opened," he said of the facility that opened in 1994.

Kamm, a cook supervisor in the prison kitchen who's worked at the facility for 22 years, isn't facing his the first government shutdown.

"In 2013, the shutdown lasted 16 days. But this time you're just not sure how long it's going to last," he said.

Another problem for employees could be the loss of vacation time. "If you took time off during the shutdown, a holiday period, there's no guarantee of getting paid if Congress approves only paying people who worked during the shutdown," said Kamm.

At the Gen. Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport, three federal agencies are represented, said airport director Gene Olson. "You've got traffic controllers with the Federal Aviation Administration and screeners with the Transportation Security Administration. They're all deemed essential so they're working," he said.

"I've heard that some TSA administrative personnel may not be working but there's been no disruption of service," said Olson, estimating about 100 federal employees work at the airport.

The one individual from Customs & Border Protection who works at the Peoria airport is on furlough leave, he said.

"This week represents the first week that employees won't get paid," said Olson. TSA spokesman Jim Gregory told the Associated Press earlier this week that if there was no appropriation by midweek, (officers) would miss their first paycheck. "That's obviously where it becomes more difficult," he said.

As the shutdown grinds on, some companies are acknowledging the problem. "AT&T customers affected by the federal government shutdown are eligible for flexible payment options to keep their service running," said AT&T spokesman Phil Hayes from his Chicago office Thursday. "As long as the shutdown is in effect, our customer service team will waive late fees, provide extensions, and coordinate with you on revised payment schedules," he said.

Steve Tarter covers city and county government for the Journal Star. He can be reached at 686-3260 or starter@pjstar.com. Follow him at Twitter@SteveTarter and facebook.com/tartersource.