Protest signs, food stockpile information, letter to Congress: Federal employees unions on brink of shutdown

With a click of a mouse, hundreds of thousands of federal employees can print pre-designed protest signs that read, “Stop the shutdown,” “Defund the government” or “Congress, do your job so I I can do my work!”

Federal employees can print protest signs reading “Defund the Government”

American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO

On Monday night, hundreds of federal employees living in Maryland called into a telephone town hall to ask about the growing possibility that their paychecks and some of their benefits could be withheld.

In Oak Park, Illinois, Treasury employees informally share information over the phone about food banks, applying for unemployment and car pooling to save money on gasoline.

With just days left in the federal government shutdown that will see federal employees across the country furloughed and their pay frozen, leading federal government employee unions are pushing Congress to cut a deal and end the impasse. Are gathering to persuade. They are organizing meetings and educational seminars for their members and running media campaigns.

Barring any success, they are also urging federal employees to be prepared.

“I’m telling them to prepare for the worst and save as much money as possible,” said Everett Kelly, president of the 750,000-member American Federation of Government Employees, which includes VA medical center employees, Homeland Security employees and federal ” Correctional officer.

The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents Customs and Border Protection employees, Food and Drug Administration employees, National Park Service workers and the IRS workforce, said its local chapters will set up a phone number to share updates on the shutdown with its members. And collecting personal email addresses. , The union said federal employees lose access to their government email addresses while on leave, so the organization is trying to create a contact list of their personal phone numbers and emails.

AFGE has drafted a model “Letter to the Editor” for its members to submit to local newspapers. A sample letter reads, “Although political chess reduces my salary, my expenses remain the same and my job is now in jeopardy. I still have to pay the mortgage, the full cost of my health insurance, and make ends meet. But I have to put on food. And if I’m unable to pay my bills because of this new financial hardship, I could lose my security clearance and be fired from my job. How does this keep our country safe. “

The union has also designed blue and yellow protest signs that can be printed and used by federal employees or their supporters.

AFGE President Kelly told CBS News, ,Some people think the shutdown only affects federal employees. But the government shutdown affects the entire country. It affects our communities. It affects our churches.”

The National Federation of Federal Employees issued an alert to its members this month, urging them to “prepare personal finances” for a possible shutdown. It advised, “Report to work as usual, unless your agency notifies you in writing that you have been officially discharged. Otherwise, if you are not discharged you may be discharged without Take the risk of missing a reason.”

On Monday, the National Treasury Employees Union released a report saying the shutdown would affect thousands of federal employees in each U.S. congressional district: “Each congressional district is home to at least 2,600 civilian federal employees. The vast majority – 96% of the districts -There are more than 4,000 civilian federal employees.”

NTEU President Doreen Greenwald, who worked for the federal government for 35 years, says local chapters of her organization are sharing guidance on how furloughed workers can access unemployment benefits, secondary jobs and food pantries during the shutdown. Can apply for assistance. “Some of our members will have to continue to work, but they won’t get paid. Some are single-income families. Some are families in which both partners work for the federal government,” Greenwald told CBS News.

NTEU has created sample letters for its union members to send to their local representative in Congress. A suggested letter reads, “As a federal employee in your district, I am writing to ask that you fund federal agencies at the levels necessary to carry out their missions and keep the government open. Support America’s federal employees by passing legislation to

But many of the letters lawmakers receive during the shutdown are personal. Representative Don Beyer, Democrat of Virginia, has released and posted some of the letters he received during the week-long 2018 federal shutdown. One said, “We recently found out we’re expecting our second child. At a time when we should be doing everything we can to save money, instead we’re terrified that we’ll be expecting our second child next month.” How will you pay the rent?”

Excerpt from the letter sent to Baer:

Constitution letter sent to Virginia’s Democrat representative Don Beyer

With federal agency shutdown plans still in flux and Congress deadlocked, unions are rallying to answer questions.

Representative Glen Ivy, a first-term Democrat from Maryland who previously served as a federal employee, staged a telephone town hall between constituents and a guest speaker who represents federal employees. “Their questions are about wages and benefits. And the line between essential and non-essential workers is an important distinction,” Ivey said. “They want to know, ‘How long do I have to wait until I get paid?'”

Representative Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat who represents a large number of federal workers in his Northern Virginia congressional district, said his office is fielding a lot of questions about the impending shutdown risk. Connolly told CBS News, “All of America will feel the pain and consequences of this entirely avoidable shutdown. I am in constant contact with federal employees to try to minimize the damage caused.”

The federal workforce has bipartisan support, supporting constituents and critical services in every state. Speaking to reporters on Monday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said the shutdown would be painful and harm efforts to secure an agreement for long-term funding for federal agencies. McCarthy said there would be no benefit from “not paying the troops and not paying our border agents.”

Unions are also implementing “government shutdown” media strategies that they have used several times since 2013, including requiring local worker representatives, who are both union managers and federal employees, to be interviewed by the news media to explain the impact of the shutdown. Has been included.

Shabe Izquierdo, an AFGE union representative who works for the Transportation Security Administration in Newark, New Jersey, emphasized the pain felt by federal workers during the shutdown. “The level of concern is at an all-time high. The level of crisis is at an all-time high,” Izquierdo said. This message has been repeated by other union representatives in other media interviews this week.

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