Federal employees rally during the government shutdown in 2013. Photo credit: Flickr user Walt Otto

On what is expected to be the 20th day of the federal government shutdown, the AFL-CIO is organizing a rally to call for an end to the partial government stoppage. More than 30 unions, including the IBEW, are co-sponsoring the event.

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“This has gone on too long and too many people are being needlessly hurt,” said IBEW International President Lonnie R. Stephenson. “Our members, like all working families, just want to go to work. It’s time for Congress and the White House to do their job and stop this shutdown.”

The rally will take place on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 12 p.m. at the federation’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., just blocks from the White House. A Facebook event for the rally has been set up as well.

With 800,000 federal employees about to miss their first paycheck of 2019 – and their second of the shutdown – trash and human waste are piling up at national parks and businesses across the country feeling the pinch, the impasse between the White House and Congress shows no signs of ending.

The partial shutdown is directly impacting 800,000 federal workers and their families, some of who will eventually be paid retroactively, but for many others there is no guarantee. Employees considered “essential” are being forced to work without pay, something the American Federation of Government Employees, a union representing federal workers, is suing over.

The ripple effects extend far beyond those families though. It’s hitting everything from air travel to craft beer and thousands of small businesses in between, many of which rely on government employee customers to make ends meet. If the shutdown continues, food stamp recipients could also go without.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed a package of bills to reopen the government last week, but the Republican-controlled Senate is refusing to take them up. And President Trump has indicated he won’t sign anything unless he gets funding for his border wall, which is not included in the House package.

Some senators are urging their colleagues to refuse action on anything unless it addresses the shutdown.

“[Sen. Mitch] McConnell and Senate Republicans have to stop contracting out their votes to Donald Trump,” said Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland to the Washington Post. “They have an important constitutional role, and we should not have business-as-usual in the Senate until we open the entire federal government.”

The AFL-CIO set up a petition for members to contact their senators and urge them to reopen the government. Members can also call directly at 866-803-8830.

A separate rally occurred this morning in Philadelphia, organized by AFGE, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer, with about 150 employees and supporters attending.

The Twitter hashtag #shutdownstories has taken off in the near three weeks working families have been out of work. Some are taking side gigs. Some are worried about how missed payments will affect their credit scores, how they will pay their mortgage, child care and other bills. Some are deciding whether they should buy medication or food.

The AFL-CIO Union Veterans Council estimates that 248,400 veterans across the country are among the victims of the shutdown and not receiving their paychecks.

“This shutdown has consequences that go beyond the loss of pay. Financial instability is one of the main cause of suicides among the veterans’ community,” said Executive Director Will Attig. “These hard-working men and women who sacrificed so much for their country should not have their families held hostage by lawmakers that cannot relate to living paycheck to paycheck.”

According to a CareerBuilder report from 2017, almost 80 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

"Every day this senseless and manufactured crisis drags on, real families with very real bills are harmed and millions are denied the vital services we deserve,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a statement. “Politicians need to do their job and allow us to do ours."

The IBEW represents thousands of federal government workers at shipyards, national laboratories, the Government Printing Office and more.