·  by John Patrick, District 13 SOAR Executive Board Member

SOAR Executive Board Member Reacts to Government Shutdown

The partial shutdown of the federal government was a major attack on Unions and the working class. The shutdown affected 25 percent of the federal government. More than 400,000 federal workers were effectively locked out; furloughed without pay. Another 400,000 were engaged in compulsory labor without pay.

The population, as a whole, was affected by delays in income tax refunds and other federal stipends. Over and above that, the disruption of air travel, as payless paydays drive air traffic controllers and airport security screeners from their jobs, as well as the loss of many other services.

A partial government shutdown led to financial stress for federal workers. National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) President Tony Reardon stated, “I’ve been dismayed and frankly angered by suggestions that they shouldn’t have financial concern.”

American Federal Government Employees (AFGE) President J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement, “Our members put their lives on the line to keep our country safe. Requiring them to work without pay is nothing short of inhumane.”

Finally, on January 10, in a letter sent to Washington D.C. leaders about the shutdown of the United States government, USW Int’l President Leo W. Gerard made the following statement. “On behalf of the 850,000 members of the United Steelworkers (USW) and in solidarity with the more than 800,000 workers impacted by this unnecessary shutdown in nine of fifteen federal departments, I urge you to reach an agreement that will allow critical agencies to conduct the necessary tasks to move our economy forward.”

The shutdown, which is the longest in American history, ended January 25 as a result of a temporary spending bill that was signed into law. It restores operations of the affected federal agencies and opened the way to paying the 800,000 federal workers who had been furloughed or forced to work without pay for 35 days. The government will only remain open until February 15, and so there could be another shutdown fight in a few weeks.

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