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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

Brian Young's picture
Jan 02, 2019

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.

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. 

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