As Congress and President Donald Trump continue a partial government shutdown over funding for a proposed border wall, federal workers are raising their own concerns. This week marked the first two-week pay period where many did not receive their salary.
Thousands of federal workers in the U.S are being left to work without pay or be without a job. In efforts to raise concerns on the effects of the shutdown, local federal prison employees and TSA workers gathered in front of the Historic Capitol Thursday for an “End the Shutdown” rally.
Employees marched from the AFL-CIO office on South Monroe Street to the Capitol, shouting,“What do we want? Our paycheck. When do we want it? Now!”
They also carried signs that read “End the Shutdown,” “Union Strong” and “Support Law Enforcement.”
As the U.S goes into its 21st day in the government shutdown, Conial Lezal, president of the Tallahassee International Airport Local 556 AFT said that the shutdown is difficult for him and his family because they are struggling to pay their bills.
“We are not being paid in a timely manner at all. It is putting hardships on a lot of our employees especially at the airport,” said Lezal. “We work very hard for this and we would like to have our paychecks so we can pay bills. It is a real issue we are facing.”
Lezal added that he is not sure when he will be able to receive a check.
“We are missing our first paycheck since Saturday and after that, we do not know how long due to the standoff going on in Congress.”
Through the “End the Shutdown” rally, employees were not only able to voice their worries about the shutdown but also inform the community about their plight.
Ray Coleman, Jr., local president of the American Federation of Government Employees Council Local 1570, said by spreading the word the community is able to see the shutdown’s impact locally.
“We organized the rally simply to get the word out and let the community know that these are workers in your neighborhood. A lot of people think they are only in Washington, D.C but these are your little league baseball coaches, big brothers and sisters, and your civic leaders — people that really affect the community,” said Coleman.
The impact of the shutdown is becoming even more strenuous for workers as hundreds still recover from Hurricane Michael, which devastated a wide swath of the Panhandle this past October.
“People are still rebuilding from the hurricane and all of that emergency cash and expenses has been put toward those efforts,” said Coleman. “Now we are here with a man-made disaster and being told we are not going to get a paycheck, but we still [must] come to work or lose our job.”
As federal workers hope to see an end to the government shutdown, it could soon make history.
According to the Congressional Research Service, if the government does not reopen by Saturday, it will become the longest government shutdown to date.
President Donald Trump has said he may declare a national emergency if he cannot reach an agreement with the Democrats to fund his border wall.