Federal workers across the country are holding rallies Thursday and Friday to protest the government shutdown, which has affected some 800,000 federal workers who have been furloughed or are working without pay. Several members of Congress from Maryland, Virginia, and D.C., as well as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will attend an AFL-CIO event in Washington, D.C., Thursday, and rally attendees will march to the White House after the remarks. Federal workers are also rallying in Cincinnati, Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas and Covington, Kentucky, also on Thursday.
The National Treasury Employees Union and dozens of other unions for federal workers are rallying in Washington, D.C., Friday. Participants plan to march from the American Federation of Labor headquarters, where 12 congressional members and 12 federal employees will speak near the White House, according to FEDmanager.
Federal workers elsewhere are calling for an end to the shutdown. Members of the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA), which represents nearly all agents, are petitioning leaders in Washington for funding for the agency immediately, as a matter of national security. Already, the association says it’s hearing from field agents that the shutdown is affecting investigations. Further, agents could see their security clearances jeopardized as their paychecks stop this week. The first paycheck they’ll miss was to be issued Friday.
Unlike private-sector employees, federal workers are legally barred from going on strike. And while they can call their elected representatives and ask them to intervene to end the shutdown, many are loath to do so too loudly for fear of being seen as partisan, which is also against the law, said Susan Schurman, a distinguished professor at Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations.
But now that the shutdown is entering its 20th day, and paychecks are set to go out by the end of the week, the 420,000 still-active federal workers who receive pay stubs showing zero dollars will have another option: Sue the government.
At least two federal employee unions, AFGE and NTEU, have filed suits on behalf of workers who haven’t been paid during the shutdown. AFGE sued on Dec. 31, on behalf of two Bureau of Prisons workers who weren’t paid for working the first day of the shutdown. NTEU sued on Tuesday, on behalf of a Border Patrol officer.
Irina Ivanova contributed reporting