Photo credit: Coastal Bend Labor Council  
Corpus Christi, Texas, Local 278 members joined in an effort organized by the Coastal Bend Labor Council to buy groceries for federal employees impacted by the ongoing government shutdown.  

As the federal government shutdown drags on with no end in sight, more and more federal employees are going without. IBEW members, including those at Corpus Christi, Texas, Local 278, are stepping in to help.

“We just felt like we needed to help out our brothers and sisters,” said Local 278 president Royce Jeffrey.

The shutdown, which is affecting some 800,000 employees across the country, is the longest in U.S. history. For many, including officers at the Federal Correction Institution in Three Rivers, they still must report to work despite not getting paid. The officers are represented by American Federation of Government Employees Local 4044.

The American Federation of Government Employees is organizing a National Day of Action on Jan. 24. Supporters are urged to contact their senators and representatives on what will be another missed payday for hundreds of thousands of working people across the country.

In an effort to help relieve some of the stress, the Coastal Bend Labor Council organized a trip to a local grocery store and purchased the equivalent of four truckloads of groceries for the officers. Local 278 donated money to the effort and some of the local’s leaders also attended the event to drop off the items.

“It was uplifting to come together like we did, as one unit, to help out,” Jeffrey said. “The officers were really grateful too. It felt good to be able to do something.”

Representatives from AFGE, the American Federation of Teachers, the Communication Workers of America, the Texas AFL-CIO and other unions participated in the event.

Unfortunately, government shutdowns have become more common over the past few years. In 2018, there were three shutdowns alone. Every time, it creates uncertainty for the men and women who do everything from working in prisons, parks and shipyards to inspecting food and processing tax returns.

“‘Are they gonna pass something? Is it gonna happen this year?’ Well, this year it happened and it happened bad,” corrections officer Richard Gonzalez told local news station KRISTV.

In addition to delivering the approximately 200 grocery bags, the labor leaders had a message for Washington: pay these workers and reopen the government.

“People need to eat, they have bills,” said Local 278 Business Manager San Juan Garcia, who is also the labor council’s president. “It’s past time to get paid. They can’t keep holding these men and women hostage.”  

An increasing number of federal employees are relying on the food banks and other assistance to get by, much of which is being chronicled in the Twitter hashtag #shutdownstories. The crowdfunding site GoFundMe currently has over 2,000 pages related to the government shutdown.

Is your local doing something to help federal workers affected by the shutdown? Let us know at