With Congress in a continued stalemate and the government shutdown in its fourth day, federal workers told their elected officials on Friday that enough is enough.
Two federal workers’ unions—the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union—protested on Friday afternoon at the House Triangle of the U.S. Capitol, in the largest protest since the government shut down on Tuesday. Some 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed, some of whom have continued to work without pay.
“Federal employees want to go to work, they want to serve the American public, but they are being locked out of their jobs due to this government shutdown,” said AFGE president J. David Cox. “We are calling on Congress to stop the lockout and allow federal employees to go back to work.”
Co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN), led the rally by introducing protesters and members of Congress.
Ellison turned the mic over to Dan Rotenberg, a furloughed airline safety inspector, who said, “I have some sobering news for you, and that is that the U.S. civil aviation system is not as safe today as it was before this Republican shutdown.” Rotenberg explained that since he and 3,000 of his colleagues have been furloughed, airplane inspections aren’t being carried out properly. He pleaded with leaders, urging, “Put us back to work.”
Rotenberg concluded with a message to House Speaker John Boehner: “Speaker Boehner, don’t be a speaker of just the Tea Party. Be a speaker for all Americans, and end this shutdown now!”
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka also spoke during Friday’s rally. “There’s the impact on our weak economy — instead of creating jobs and investing in America’s future, reckless Republicans have laid off almost a million workers,” he said. “That irresponsible behavior could throw our entire country back into recession.”
The Senate voted to send a clean continuing resolution to the House to pass a budget and end the government shutdown. Seventeen Republicans have agreed to support this bill if it comes to a vote, giving the House the majority it needs to pass the resolution. But Boehner has refused to stand up to the Tea Party faction of his party, give up on defunding Obamacare, and bring this bill to a vote.
Listen to Richard Trumka’s speech here:
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Photo: AFGE via Flickr