Today is day three of the official government shutdown. No, this is not a government slowdown or slim down, this is a government shutdown. There are thousands of workers who are forced to go to work knowing full well they may never be paid for their work. One example of this is our nations air traffic controllers.
Think back a minute to what happened when the air traffic controllers were furloughed as part of the sequester. Just furloughing 5% of the controllers per day resulted in massive delays throughout the country. Now imagine what would happen if all of those air traffic controllers were told not to come in because the government is closed? No airplanes would be flying, people would be stranded throughout the world, and our economy would grind to a halt. This is why even though the government is shutdown air traffic controllers and others must continue to work.
National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi condemned Congress for forcing the shutdown:
“It is unacceptable that thousands of our aviation safety professionals have been forced to stay home due to partisan posturing in Congress.”
“I implore Congress to reach an agreement to end this shutdown, which is hurtful to our nation’s aviation system, our economy and the American people.”
During the shutdown, air traffic controllers are working without pay, but essential support staff specialists have been furloughed. Rinaldi said this is akin to a surgeon performing an operation without any staff to prep the room, clean the equipment or provide support during the surgery.
This is not the case for the 25,000 federal LIUNA construction workers. Although most military men and women have not been sent home, LIUNA’s National Guard District Council represents over 5,000 dual-status technicians, military and civilian, are subject to furloughs. Several thousand more LIUNA members working for the Indian Health Service have also been furloughed.
Below are some links to local press about LIUNA members being sent home due to the government shutdown:
- Texas’ Express News – Government shutdown brings nearly 23,000 furloughs in S.A. “Jim Hewitt, a labor union leader at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, said workers don’t like Congress “playing games” with their jobs. “They’re frustrated and they’re exasperated,” said Hewitt, president of Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 28.”
- New Mexico KOB News 4 – Civilian employees fear furloughs if government shuts down “Jessey Baca works as a civilian at Kirtland Air Force Base. He told KOB Eyewitness News 4 he just finished about 12 days of furloughs and can’t afford to take another day… Baca said the last round of furloughs had him down about $500 per pay check.”
- South Dakota KDLT News – SD Guard Sends 549 Employees Home
- Michigan Live – Government shutdown: Michigan National Guard faces furloughs, cut training
All of these workers and hundreds of thousands more are now sitting at home waiting for Congress to get their act together and reopen the government. All of this could have been avoided if the House would have sent the Senate a clean continuing resolution. Instead the House decided to shut the government down. There is no doubt that this shutdown is the fault of those in leadership in the U.S. House.
Right now millions of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck. The GOP Leadership in the House has determined that federal workers can go without. They shut down the entire government because they want to repeal a law that has already gone into effect. It is truly sad that our elected leaders are putting working families into potential financial ruin over an ideological debate they cannot win.
At a sit-in style protest at Speaker Boehner’s office, Melissa Roseboro a federal contract worker at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, had this to say:
“As it is, I am barely able to pay my rent and put food on the table with what I make at McDonald’s in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.”
“I am forced to rely on public assistance to get by. But this shutdown is making it impossible for me to even scrape by. Every day the government is shut down is another day I don’t have any money to feed my family. So we are here to ask House Republicans, who continue to get paid while playing politics with my job and my wages, to help us pay our bills. My rent was due yesterday. It’s not right, and I need Congress to end this shutdown and let us work.”
AFGE President David Cox released this statement on the GOP obstructionism over the Affordable Care Act:
“The seriousness of refusing the fund the government seems to elude the members of the House who maneuvered us into this lockout. It’s anybody’s guess what their real goals may be: Do they enjoy creating chaos? Do they enjoy inflicting additional hardship on the working- and middle-class employees who provide services to the American public? Do they hate the notion of letting the uninsured buy affordable insurance, or just hate the idea that the government is helping them do so? “
“Or is this just an elaborate way to destroy the most popular and successful government programs, Social Security and Medicare? “
“President Obama has promised that he will not negotiate to end this crisis, and we strongly support that position. Recent similar standoffs have been resolved largely on the backs of federal employees, taking away our pay, retirement, and jobs. This time, we expect the administration to hold firm, and resist the temptation to give in by cutting federal retirement or Social Security. There is no justification for using federal employees to pay ransom.”
The longer this government shutdown goes on the harder it will be to forget as we move into the next election.