Two months after the longest shutdown in U.S. history crippled the government and left 800,000 federal workers without a paycheck for 35 days, members of Congress took part in our union’s Federal and D.C. Worker Appreciation Week by visiting federal worksites across the country to show their appreciation for federal and D.C. government employees and their contributions to the nation.
More than 50 AFGE locals participated in the Worker Appreciation Week, which took place on March 18-22. They invited their local members of Congress to tour their federal facilities and learn more about the work our members do on behalf of the public.
In Washington, D.C., Rep. Jaime Raskin of Maryland(D) met with members of AFGE Local 1831 at the National Gallery of Art on March 21. He also signed up to become a member of AFGE.
In Portland, Oregon, Rep. Kurt Schrader (D) visited a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital and met with members of AFGE Local 2157 on March 19. They discussed several issues, including the VA’s difficulty recruiting and retaining doctors due to non-competitive wages. Rep. Schrader promised to look into reinstating the agency’s student loan repayment program as a way to help.
In Salem, Virginia, Sen. Tim Kaine (D) toured the Salem VA Medical Center in southwest Virginia on March 19 and met with members of AFGE Local 1739. He said he stands with federal workers who are fighting to preserve their collective bargaining rights and protect their jobs from outsourcing.
“We have to resist any efforts from the White House or VA administration to privatize VA. VA needs to be open to serve people. That’s not what you tell me, that’s what veterans tell me,” Kaine said during his visit.
In Boston, Massachusetts, Reps. Lori Trahan (D) and Katherine Clark (D) visited with members of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) staff in the Offices of Multifamily Housing, Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity, Public & Indian Housing, and Community Planning and Development. The congresswomen asked detailed questions about the employees’ programs, and each noted the many empty cubicles in the offices, which indicated major staffing shortages in the region and throughout HUD as a whole.
AFGE Local 3258 Vice President Sajid Shahriar said the congresswomen expressed support for protecting union rights and benefits, especially with respect to the need to recruit and retain employees and rebuild institutional knowledge in HUD’s programs.
“It was a great honor to host two strong supporters of union rights, and Congresswoman Clark’s seat on the Housing Subcommittee on the Appropriations Committee made this visit extra important,” Shahriar said.
In West Virginia, Rep. David McKinley (R) met with members of AFGE Local 425 and took a brief tour of the Federal Correctional Institution, Gilmer.
In New York, Rep. Max Rose (D) met with AFGE members representing VA and Social Security Administration (SSA) workers in New York City.
“Government workers have committed their lives to serving their country, keeping us safe, and making sure government works for everyone. I’m proud to stand with AFGE and hardworking New Yorkers to make sure we honor and respect their service,” Rose said.
In Tallahassee, Florida, Reps. Al Lawson (D) and Neal Dunn (R) visited the Federal Detention Center and met with AFGE Local 1570 members. Rep. Dunn was surprised to see such vast operations being done by such a small staff. He also wasn’t too happy about the lack of a sprinkler system at the facility.
In SeaTac, Washington, Reps. Kim Schrier (D) and Adam Smith (D) stopped by the Federal Detention Center and met with members from AFGE Local 1102.
Rep. Josh Harder (D) met with several AFGE Locals in California. Members from Local 3899 (Department of Education) and Local 3172 (SSA) paid a visit to his district office. Then, members from Local 1546 (Department of Defense) and Local 1230 (Transportation Security Administration) attended a labor roundtable with him and the North Valley Labor Federation.
In Southern Nevada, AFGE Local 1224 met with Rep. Susie Lee (D) to discuss issues affecting the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Veterans Benefits Administration.
In Las Vegas, Nevada, Rep. Steven Horsford (D) visited AFGE Local 1224 members at the North Las Vegas VA Medical Center to discuss the serious threats facing the VA locally and nationally, including growing staff vacancies, outsourcing of veterans’ care under the VA MISSION Act, and management action to strip 100,000 VA health care workers of their representational rights.
In North Carolina, Rep. David Price (D) met with AFGE Local 3347 members at the Environmental Protection Agency’s campus in Research Triangle Park.
In Buffalo, New York, Rep. Brian Higgins (D) visited the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facility and met with AFGE Local 2930 members.
In Togus, Maine, Rep. Jared Golden (D) visited the VA hospital and met with members of AFGE Local 2610.
In Hampton, Virginia, Reps. Bobby Scott (D) and Elaine Luria (D) visited the VA hospital and met with members of AFGE Local 2328.
In Richmond, Virginia, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) met with members of AFGE Local 1992 and took a tour of the U.S. Defense Supply Center.
In Chicago, Illinois, Rep. Robin Kelly (D) visited the EPA’s Region 5 Office and met with members of AFGE Local 704.
In Houston, Texas, Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D) toured the VA hospital and met with AFGE Local 1633.
In Anthony, Texas, Rep. Veronica Escobar (D) toured the La Tuna Federal Correctional Institution and met with AFGE Local 83 members.
Our union thanks all of the members of Congress who took time to show appreciation for the vital work our federal and D.C. government workers perform for the American public every day. Whether through a visit to the facility or sharing a message of support on social media, AFGE members and all federal and D.C. workers are feeling the love.
To see photos and more stories from AFGE’s Federal and D.C. Worker Appreciation Week, be sure to follow AFGE on social media. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest updates.