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'Will Work for Pay': Furloughed Federal Workers Stage Sit-In Outside Senators' Offices in Washington
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=48761"><span class="small">Marissa J. Lang, The Washington Post</span></a>   
Wednesday, 23 January 2019 14:03

Lang writes: "On the 33rd day of a partial government shutdown that has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers without pay, some staged a sit-in outside the offices of the senators they blame for helping to keep the government closed."

'Federal workers from various unions [are] holding plates to show they need to feed their families,' noted NBC's Kelly O'Donnell. (photo: Natalie Grim/Twitter)
'Federal workers from various unions [are] holding plates to show they need to feed their families,' noted NBC's Kelly O'Donnell. (photo: Natalie Grim/Twitter)


'Will Work for Pay': Furloughed Federal Workers Stage Sit-In Outside Senators' Offices in Washington

By Marissa J. Lang, The Washington Post

23 January 19

 

n the 33rd day of a partial government shutdown that has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers without pay, some staged a sit-in outside the offices of the senators they blame for helping to keep the government closed.

The protest, led by union leaders from the National Federation of Federal Employees, is meant to draw attention to the plight of federal workers — many of whom have had to dig into their savings, take on side jobs and seek help from food banks and other charitable programs to stay afloat.

On Wednesday, hundreds of out-of-work federal workers, union officials and supporters stood in silence for 33 minutes — one for each day of the longest government shutdown in American history.

Inside the Hart Senate Office Building, where protest signs are banned, workers instead wrote messages on Styrofoam plates.

“Jobs not walls,” read one.

“Will work for pay,” read another.

“Please let us work,” said several more.

The workers held the plates high, toward the windows of senators’ offices that overlook the atrium where they gathered.

With each minute that passed, organizers rang a chime that marked another day of the government impasse, another day of no work, no pay and growing desperation.

After 33 minutes, the crowd erupted into a chorus of chants: “No more food banks,” protesters shouted. “We need paychecks!”

They waved their plates to the beat. Some clapped. Others stomped their feet.

Blake Lorenz, 75, brandished his handwritten sign. On it was one word: “Hostage.”

Lorenz, a furloughed federal worker who manages satellite communications for NASA, said it’s how he has felt since the shutdown began on Dec. 22.

“I think we’re being used as pawns,” he said. “What does me doing my job at NASA have to do with a wall?”

Helene Lonang, 55, scrawled a plea for back pay for federal contractors on her plate. As a security guard at the Smithsonian, she is not sure she will be able to recoup her weeks of lost wages.

Lonang, an immigrant from Cameroon, said she’s fallen behind on her mortgage. She hasn’t been able to pay for her 16-year-old daughter’s tutoring lessons. While she usually sends money to family abroad, she said, in recent weeks she’s barely had enough to get by.

She’s begun looking for temporary work, but all she wants is her job back.

“It’s not only my family who is hurting,” she said. “Some days I cry because there is no help for us. I hope this makes Trump and the government realize we need our jobs. ... I wish they would please let us go back to work.”

On Friday, hundreds of thousands of workers will face the loss of a second paycheck.

“We want senators to see the faces of the people who are being hurt by this (shutdown), and to tell them it’s time to stop holding federal employees hostage,” said Brittany Holder, a spokeswoman for the NFFE.

The protest began at noon in the Hart building, where about 50 lawmakers have offices.

Union leaders and a handful of federal workers planned to proceed to the offices of senators, whom they hope to lobby for a vote on a bill that would reopen the government through September and postpone the stalled debate over border security and funding for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The demonstration comes one day before the Senate is scheduled to vote on a pair of competing bills to reopen the government — one from Democrats and one from President Trump. Neither bill appeared likely to earn the support needed to advance.

Trump’s proposal would open the government through Sept. 30, while also earmarking $5.7 billion for a border wall, granting temporary deportation protections to about 1 million undocumented immigrants and altering asylum rules — a new wrinkle that Democrats described as a nonstarter.

The Democrats’ bill would fund the government through Feb. 8 without providing new money for Trump’s proposed border wall. Proponents have said the stopgap measure would allow both parties to negotiate on border security, while allowing federal employees to get back to work.

Federal employees rallied outside the White House earlier this month in a demonstration aimed at the president. Though the workers assembled there varied in political leanings, nearly all said they felt used — like pawns.

“They can lie, they can steal, they can bring the United States government to its knees, but we’re going to be fighting, we’re going to be marching, and we are going to make sure to hold Mitch McConnell accountable,” Jeffery David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees said in an address to the crowd of hundreds gathered on Jan. 10, referring to the Senate Majority Leader. “Mitch, do your job.”

The crowd shouted back, taking up the call: “Do your job,” they chanted. “Do your job.”

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 January 2019 14:43
 

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+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-01-23 19:16
This shutdown is becoming ridiculous. It is making clear just how incompetent, malevolent, and -- in short -- fucked up the leaders of both parties are. This is all grandstanding and holding the whole nation hostage in order to score a "win" against their enemy. Pelosi and Trump are equal idiots. Both need to go.

I'm with these protesters. We all need to tell Trump and Pelosi to "Do your job." Pelosi's job is to pass a budget. Trump's job is to carry out the laws passed by congress. If congress won't fund a wall, then there will be no wall. Trump can just get used to it.

But it is all bigger than that. Congress has been avoiding a complete revision of US immigration laws for three decades. It just does not have the work ethic to face the hard job of finding fair and reasonable solutions to all the problems the US faces. And immigration is directly linked to the US wars and puppet dictatorships in Latin America. That needs to stop and congress can stop it - if congress would just "do its job."
 
 
+4 # DongiC 2019-01-24 06:02
Equating Pelosi with Trump, rr, is your most colossal error. Trump is a would-be-dictat or in rather poor disguise. Pelosi is fighting the good fight by refusing him any funds for his stupid wall and by disinviting him to make his state of the union speech from the House floor. If the Speaker gives in to Trump on the wall, she would bring to mind Neville Chamberlain and the appeasement of Adolph Hitler at a place called Munich. Your hatred of the Deep State has blinded you to a most important historical parallel. Giving into would be dictators is not the way to achieve peace and prosperity. It is the way to utter ruin.
 
 
+3 # SusanT136 2019-01-24 06:31
Quoting Rodion Raskolnikov:
This shutdown is becoming ridiculous. It is making clear just how incompetent, malevolent, and -- in short -- fucked up the leaders of both parties are....Pelosi and Trump are equal idiots. Both need to go.

I'm with these protesters. We all need to tell Trump and Pelosi to "Do your job." Pelosi's job is to pass a budget..


You refuse to get it. I’m not the biggest Pelosi fan but she IS doing her job. Pelosi is NOT the problem here, as has been pointed out to you numerous times. She helped pass a bill to simply reopen the govt temporarily which would at least give workers some relief while “negotiations” about the wall continue. Mitch McConnell has NOT been doing his job. He has not allowed any bills to reopen the govt to be voted on. These bills will be the first in 33 days. And now Senate Republicans have been pressured by McConnell and Trump to toe the line, regardless of the human consequences.

Republicans in the Senate are NOT doing their job. It’s not their job to assist the hostage taker in chief, it’s their job to keep govt open and THEN negotiate how money will be spent.

BTW all of Trumps bluster about “security” with the wall is obviously BS and a cover for his “hate the brown people” crap. If he was truly concerned about security he would be alarmed that the FBI can’t do it’s job, and the the Justice dept is not issuing indictments against actual criminals.
 
 
-2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-01-24 17:32
I guess I'm not explaining myself clearly enough. Republicans and democrats are at total loggerheads over a single issue: the border wall. That opposition is being used as a proxy for the larger opposition to Trump and as a preparation to the presidential race of 2020. Democrats need to make Trump lose and he needs to make democrats lose.

Pelosi is the leader of the House. Her job is to rise above this idiocy. Her job is to prevent a single issue from derailing the operation of the whole government. Her job is persuasion. SHe needs to meet with Trump everyday to persuade him that a wall is not good governance. Trump will try to persuade her that it is. They will reach some accommodation.


Right now, Pelosi is refusing to talk to Trump. She increasing the pressure on him by doing petty things like canceling the state of the Union (a great mercy for all of us, however). If you want to persuade an opponent, don't keep increasing the stakes. Make it easy for him to back down and give up his wall. Pelosi is just playing to the media. She's also whipping democrats into line behind her.


Trump's desire for the wall is truly wrong, but he does have a lot of power in this situation. He's got the veto power. Pelosi should be working with everyone in congress to pass a veto-proof bill. That may not be possible, but it is her job to try to do it.
 
 
+2 # Stilldreamin1 2019-01-24 05:29
tRumpy's vanity is more important than the financial/physi cal well-being of these 800,000 workers and all those who depend on their paychecks.