Hundreds of furloughed federal workers, contractors, union representatives, and supporters protested outside the White House on Thursday as the partial government shutdown entered its 20th day.
“We want to send a very strong message — that this is not about politics, it’s about getting people back to work,” said Brittany Holder, a spokeswoman for the NFFE and a protest organizer. “A lot of the county thinks federal workers are all here in the D.C. area, but it’s only 15 percent. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet, and suddenly the paychecks stop? People are feeling really stressed and anxious, and they want to know when this will end.”
Approximately 800,000 workers have been furloughed or are working without pay after the government shut down Dec. 22 over President Trump’s demands for money to build his long-promised border wall.
Several protestors wore bright vests which read “I am a worker, I demand a voice.”
Others held signs, with one reading: “My paycheck is not leverage for 45’s racism.”
Another sign read, “We want work, not walls.”
The head of the National Treasury Employees Union urged politicians to “remove federal employees from the middle of your political fight” and to “treat federal employees with dignity.”
— Tom Fitzgerald (@FitzFox5DC) January 10, 2019
A National Weather Service employee told the story of a fellow co-worker who has suffered from seizures over the past year but is unable to pay for her treatment currently. He added that her doctor had told her stress from the shutdown could cause even more seizures.
“It’s difficult to serve your country when things are unraveling at home,” he concluded.
Working people have had enough of this federal government lock out. Enough of the partisan games that are playing with people’s lives! RT to show what #1u solidarity looks like as workers march to the White House now! #StopTheShutDown pic.twitter.com/l78YfjBPJj
— Liz Shuler (@lizshuler) January 10, 2019
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) briefly spoke to protestors before marching on the White House, thanking them for “standing up for justice.”
He said it was “unbelievable we have a president willing to deny services” and urged Trump to “grow up, do your job and end this shutdown.”
Hundreds of federal workers, contractors and supporters spilling into the street in front of the AFL-CIO building, just down the road from the White House. They’re chanting, “we want our pay!” #ShutdownProtest #DC pic.twitter.com/7v4Qt1NPey
— Marissa J. Lang (@Marissa_Jae) January 10, 2019