Government Employees Sue Trump Over Shutdown
With the shutdown in its second week, their union is trying to get their members the pay they deserve
Thanks to the temper tantrum that Trump is throwing over the Republican Congress refusing to fund his stupid wall, 380,000 federal employees have been locked out of their jobs and another 420,000 have been forced to work with no pay, all during the holidays.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the largest union representing federal employees, have not sat by while their members suffer. On Monday, the union filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the government is violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by forcing employees deemed “essential” to work without pay. This includes 420,000 people who work in roles such as correctional officers, Border Patrol and ICE agents, and transportation security officers, just to name a few.
"Our members put their lives on the line to keep our country safe," said J. David Cox Sr., national president, American Federation of Government Employees. "Requiring them to work without pay is nothing short of inhumane.
With the Democrats set to take over the Congress this week, AFGE has also been working closely with incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi to find an end to the shutdown. Democrats plan to introduce a funding bill that would re-open the government, funding 6 of the seven affected agencies through the end of the year, and providing funding for the Department of Homeland Security through February 8th. They are calling on the Senate to approve this bill so that their members can get back to work.
While their union fights the shutdown in court and in Congress, AFGE members have taken to social media, posting about the real-life consequences of the shutdown. Some are worried about losing their homes, while others had no way to buy gifts for their children on Christmas. According to the union, the average federal employee makes about $500 a week, so many are living paycheck to paycheck and a shutdown just days before Christmas has thrown a wrench into a usually stable job.
My insurance premium is $600 per month & my sons Insulin & pump supplies are an additional $600 per quarter. Barely making it. Now I'll be going to work.....paid in the future. #ShutdownStories
— Mizz Dub (@nikkita_atikkin) December 25, 2018
I am a single mother of 3 with no help. Not knowing if I can pay rent or feed my family next week is hard and all that’s on my mind this day of Christmas when I should be happy. My kids feel my anxiety too #ShutdownStories
— mj4ever (@mj4ever) December 25, 2018
I finished two-year journey to become a paralegal and I landed a great job at the FTC. I am an Army veteran. I had just divorced, was broke, and I was working three jobs to survive. I’m still paying off big debts. I’m not sure how I’m going to make my rent now. #ShutdownStories
— Patrickiscreating (@PatrickCurtin99) December 25, 2018
Thankful I have two jobs because I'm not getting paid at TSA. But I still have to show up. Which means I have to work both jobs every day, sleeping two to three hours at night, just to not even break even on bills. #ShutdownStories
— heather manus (@sinai_selah) December 29, 2018
While Trump and McConnell play politics with the federal workforce these AFGE members are real people who are suffering and with Trump digging in they may be without pay for an extended period of time. Does AFGE have the power to stop the shutdown though? In some districts, particularly in the DC suburbs, federal workers make up close to 25% of the residents. When federal contractors and spouses are included that number can climb closer to 50%. That creates a very large voting block of angry constituents for these elected officials and many are already calling their Senators, Congressmember and even the White House demanding an end to the shutdown.