Federal employees rally to end government shutdown

Over 800,000 federal employees remain out of work or working without pay due to the partial government shutdown. This week, employee groups are joining together to send a message to lawmakers that the government must be funded. The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), alongside 33 other public sector employee groups, have organized a rally to be held on Friday, January 11 in Washington, D.C. As the effects of the shutdown increase, groups have formed similar movements across the country.

On Tuesday morning, about 150 federal employees and supporters rallied in front of the Liberty Bell to protest the government shutdown. The rally was organized by the American Federal of Government Employees (AFGE) and was joined by Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Pa.).

Senator Dick Durbin (R-Il.) got involved Tuesday morning, speaking to a group of TSA workers at O’Hare airport who are working without pay. If TSA workers are not paid this Friday, their next scheduled paycheck, airport officials are preparing for more employees to call in sick rather than come in to work without pay.

Federal employees in College Park, Maryland have also decided to organize. Small groups of furloughed employees have spent days outside the National Archives and Records Administration building in College Park.

AFGE union representatives have been advising federal employees unable to afford basic living expenses to file for unemployment insurance as the shutdown continues into its 18th day.

The NTEU has organized a DC rally for which they plan to bus in federal employees affected by the shutdown. Participants plan to march from the American Federation of Labor headquarters, where 12 congressional members and 12 federal employees will speak, to the White House.

Federal employees joining in these movements come from a range of specializations, but are unified by their frustration and concern with the federal government.

Ashley Crowder, President of the local Maryland AFGE, explains, “We have employees who have taken an oath to serve the people who are locked out of their jobs… We’re out here not just for us, but in solidarity with all federal employees who are negatively affected by this situation.”

As the shutdown leaves parks unattended, court cases suspended, and mortgage approvals delayed, Americans across the country are feeling the impact.

In southeastern, California, a group of civilian volunteers have come together to clean up local parks which have been overrun with trash since rangers were furloughed.

Rand Abbott, the impromptu volunteer organizer, explains, “People are climbing where they shouldn’t – including in parts of the park that are off-limits because there are writings on the rocks by Indian tribes, and those writings are hundreds of years old. They’re also camping where they shouldn’t, and pooping all over the place. They’re driving off-road to take photos at certain spots instead of walking there, and driving over cactuses… I’m sure there’s lots more damage that we have yet to discover.”

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