A delegation of National Treasury Employees Union members today delivered to Senate leadership a petition signed by 17,820 federal employees calling for an end to the shutdown so they can get back to serving the American people and have their income restored.
“Our goal today was to personally carry this message to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “Every day, federal employees are put under increasing financial strain and it is appalling that they are in this position.”
The signatures were delivered to the Senate offices on Capitol Hill by Reardon and 23 NTEU members from several federal agencies, including two IRS employees from Kentucky.
“We were welcomed at each office and given a chance to tell our stories,” Reardon said. “I was glad to have a chance to talk with Sen. McConnell’s staff and ask them to deliver our message directly to the Majority Leader that he allow the Senate to consider bills to fund federal agencies and get employees back to work and get them paid. In Sen. Schumer’s office, we thanked him personally for his support of the federal workforce and his efforts to bring this shutdown to an end.”
The heartbreaking stories of federal employees forgoing needed medical treatment, worrying about putting gas in their cars, or trying to keep the lights on and put food on their tables continue to mount. Meanwhile the ripple effect of their economic hardship spreads throughout their communities in every state.
While on Capitol Hill, the members also met with Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. Sen. Kaine is a strong supporter of federal employees and listened as every NTEU member in the delegation described the frustrations of their coworkers and their desire to get back to work as soon as possible.
“What I hope all members of Congress and those in the administration understand is that there are 800,000 American citizens—who are employees of the U.S. government—being seriously harmed by this shutdown. They need to immediately be pulled out of this larger political battle,” Reardon said. “As nonpartisan public servants, they should not be put in this position.”
Reardon and the NTEU members attempted to deliver copies of the same petition to the White House but could not get past the gates.
“I am disappointed that we could not deliver the petition to someone in the administration, but we will keep trying to share our message with White House officials,” Reardon said.
Today also saw the return to work of thousands of IRS employees who are now on the job without a paycheck. They join their colleagues at the Food and Drug Administration and Customs and Border Protection and many other federal employees who are on the job with no pay.
NTEU continues to monitor the administration’s expanding list of employees it is calling back into work during the shutdown, without pay.
NTEU has filed two separate lawsuits related to the shutdown. The first alleges that requiring federal employees to work without pay during a shutdown violates the Fair Labor Standards Act. The second is a broader constitutional claim that challenges the ability of the executive branch to spend money that has not been appropriated by Congress, which is what happens when certain employees are ordered to work only to be paid after the shutdown ends. NTEU is also challenging the administration’s ability to require employees to work during the shutdown even if their jobs are not related to protecting human life and property.
NTEU-represented agencies affected by the lapse in appropriations include: IRS, Customs and Border Protection, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Communications Commission, Food and Drug Administration, Federal Election Commission, National Park Service, Patent and Trademark Office, Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Chapter 68 Leaders working furiously on behalf of workers during shutdown
As the government shutdown drags on with politicians seemingly impervious to the plight of federal workers, your Chapter 68 leaders have been working hard to give a voice to Chapter 68 members forced into non work status. Starting on day 1 of the shutdown, Chapter 68 leaders began plotting, organizing, rallying, and meeting with lawmakers to voice displeasure with the pay stoppage that none of us wanted or asked for. We are still working for you every day. Here is a list of some of the things that have been done up to this point:
In the wee hours of January 10th, Chapter President Gary Karibian and Chief Steward/Treasurer Nellie Batista got into Gary’s car and began the 8 hour drive to Washington DC to rally against the shutdown along with chapters from NTEU, AFGE, and other labor unions both public and private sector at AFL-CIO headquarters. They then drove back home for 8 more hours in the Gary-Mobile to resume anti-shutdown activities.
On January 11th, Chapter 68 leaders joined representatives from NTEU chapters 11 and 23 and met with Senator Jeanne Shaheen. Impact of the government shutdown on federal employees was discussed. Senator Shaheen vowed to share our concerns on Capitol Hill.
On January 12th, the chapter shared information with our members about an event to meet and speak with Elizabeth Warren about our concerns. Chapter 68 leaders and members also met with Congresswoman Lori Trahan in a roundtable discussion in Andover. Chapter representatives and members discussed the impact of the shutdown and asked Ms. Trahan to be our voice in Congress.
On January 13th, NTEU Chapter 68 leaders and Chapter 288 leaders spoke up at Town hall event with Congressman Chris Pappas in Exeter. The financial concerns of feds and their families was discussed.
On January 14th, the chapter provided Governor Baker’s office phone number to NTEU members who wished to voice their concern. Chapter leaders also contacted Lori Trahan’s office again to ask for her assistance in pressuring the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance to accommodate the needs of furloughed and unpaid government workers.
On January 15th, Chapter 68 leaders arranged town hall meeting with members and Congressman Seth Moulton’s staff. Chapter leaders addressed unemployment concerns once again and asked for the Congressman’s support in putting pressure on the unemployment office to accommodate feds.
On January 16th, Chapter 68 leaders contacted Senator Shaheen’s office again. Senator Shaheen requested photos and stories of impacted union members so that she could share them on Capitol Hill.
On January 17th, Chapter leaders met with Kate Machet who is the Senior Regional Director for Senator Ed Markey. There was an hour long discussion on how shutdown is impacting feds. This was also the date that Chapter 68 leaders and members joined hundreds of other labor union members and representatives on the steps of the Statehouse in Boston. Many regional legislators spoke at the podium, as did prominent labor leaders including Chapter 68 President, Gary Karibian. Gary called on both congress and the president to get together and find a way to end the shutdown.
On January 18th, Gary spoke with Congressman Joe Kennedy about the plight of federal workers and the impact of the shutdown on the workers and families impacted.
Chapter 68’s pursuit of allies on Capitol Hill has been relentless. Chapter leaders have not stopped communicating, organizing, and working on behalf of NTEU members. The core leaders of our chapter have been furiously working, texting and emailing each other, and planning events. Rest assured that your Chapter 68 leaders have not stopped acting on your behalf, and will not rest until we are all in a paid status!
Please visit www.nteuch68.org and facebook.com/nteu-chapter-68 for important updates.
Good Luck Everyone! In Solidarity!
State House Rally: Chapter 68 and other NTEU Chapters join Regional Labor Chapters both Federal and private sector to unite against shutdown
On Thursday, January 17, local NTEU Chapters joined other federal labor union chapters along with AFL-CIO leaders and Congressional and local reps. The message was clear: End the shutdown! Let us work and pay us now! Chapter 68 President Gary Karibian was one of the charismatic leaders calling for an end to the shutdown. "Enough is enough! Congress, Mr. President, open the government! Let us serve America! Let us do the job that we took an oath to do and open the government today. Thank you and God Bless!". That is how Chapter President Karibian concluded his speech, to the cheers and delight of passionate union leaders and members in the crowd. The crowd was boisterous, with chants of "Enough is enough", and "We want to work!" breaking out sporadically. Many of those chants were led by Chief Steward and Treasurer Nellie Batista. Chapter leaders have been working non-stop since the shutdown began. They have been arranging meetings with our state reps and congressional leaders, members, and working with Governer Baker's office and the Massachuse Office of Unemploment to ensure that furloughed feds get the assitance they deserve. Please check with the chapter's Facebook page for frequet updates as this shutdown drags on: https://www.facebook.com/NTEU-Chapter-68