Linda Ward-Smith, president of AFGE Local 1224 representing 2,200 federal employees in Las Vegas, made our union’s voice heard in the Nevada State Legislature by testifying in support of a bill that would protect federal and state workers from eviction, foreclosure, or having their cars repossessed during any future government shutdown.
The longest government shutdown in U.S. history earlier this year forced 800,000 federal employees to go without a paycheck for 35 days. Many federal employees and their families had to choose between paying a mortgage or skipping medication or meals.
As a registered nurse at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Las Vegas, Ward-Smith centered her testimony around the emotional and mental strain put on employees during and after the shutdown. Even though the shutdown has ended, employees are still feeling lingering psychological effects. They developed health conditions such as anxiety and depression as a result of the shutdown.
“One member reported she couldn’t stop crying and had difficulty sleeping and nervousness, and to date continues having problems with sleeping and concentration,” Ward-Smith testified.
“Even after our employees returned to work, the emotional stressors remained,” she said. “They have no trust in the system and they fear another shutdown is imminent.”
The employees will also have to shoulder the cost of medical treatment and therapy for conditions arising from their experience during the shutdown for months or even years to come, she added.
The bill, AB 393, received overwhelming support with no opposing testimony given.