As the government shutdown entered its third week, federal employees, union members, and the American people from Arizona to New York took to the streets to protest the Trump administration locking 380,000 federal workers out of their jobs while forcing another 420,000 to work without pay.
The main rally took place in Washington, D.C. near the White House where hundreds of people braved the cold on Jan. 10 to call an end to the immoral shutdown. Dozens of union members, leaders, and members of Congress took turns explaining how the shutdown has hurt federal employees and the American public.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka opened the D.C. rally by emphasizing that it’s never ok to ask someone to work without paying them – especially not the brave veterans, law enforcement officers, and civil servants who work every day to provide essential services to the American people.
AFGE President J. David Cox Sr., who has made dozens of appearances on major networks, including MSNBC, called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow the vote on the funding bills that would reopen the government.
“They were elected to do a job and they didn’t do it!” Cox told the cheering crowd. “Mitch, do your job!”
AFGE Council of Prison Locals Eric Young explained correctional officers protect the American public but doing so without getting paid.
A federal investigator for the Housing and Urban Development in California said she enforces housing laws to make sure the American people are not discriminated when it comes to buying a house. But she has been locked out of work without pay.
In Atlanta, federal employees gathered at the airport to call attention to the plight of TSA officers who are diligently working to protect the flying public despite not receiving a paycheck.
In Chicago, federal employees and allies gathered downtown holding signs like “Jobs, Not Furloughs,” “Stop the shutdown,” and “Let Us Keep Our Air and Water Clean.”
In Detroit, federal employees rallied outside the McNamara Federal Building to protest the shutdown and highlight the negative effects on workers and a community still recovering from the devastating impacts of the 2008 recession.
The shutdown, which began Dec. 22, has left nine federal departments and several agencies closed -- leaving nearly 40% of federal workforce without pay. Trump has threated to keep the shutdown going for months or even years if Congress refuses to give him $5.6 billion to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Aviation industry groups warn of shutdown travel troubles
In a truly unprecedented move, airline management, airline labor, airline passenger groups, and a broad spectrum of commercial aviation organizations have announced their complete unity in opposition to the government shutdown out of concern for the direct impact it is having and will continue to have on commercial aviation.
The group, a coalition of 34 aviation-related organizations ranging from the Air Line Pilots Associations to Travelers United, sent a letter to President Trump and Congress, calling for an end to the shutdown. The three-page joint letter listed concerns on various issues affecting aviation, notably the impact on the FAA and TSA as low-paid workers struggling to get by without a paycheck are forced to quit and find other jobs in order to pay their bills – with no way to recruit, hire and train replacements while the government is shut down.
“With fewer TSOs available to screen travelers at security checkpoints, wait times will grow and larger crowds will be forced to congregate in public areas of airports. In some cases, checkpoints may have to be closed as a result of the shutdown,” they wrote. “Some airports are already struggling to keep up with a record number of travelers, and reduced staffing levels will exacerbate problems in the near-term and into the busy spring and summer travel seasons. Reduced staffing levels are of particular concern at airports that have high-profile events ongoing or scheduled to occur in the near future, including major trade shows and sporting events.”