We did it!
We bombarded Congress with calls and visits. We took to the streets for days on end. And we won!
Congress and President Trump Jan. 25 reached an agreement to end the longest government shutdown in U.S. history and fund the government through Feb. 15. The Office of Management and Budget sent a memo to agency heads saying furloughed employees may now return to work.
Our collective actions were covered extensively by the media, which created even more pressure to end the shutdown.
The short-term continuing resolution, signed into law the night of Jan. 25, ends the 35-day shutdown without the wall funding President Trump sought.
The deal allows federal employees forced to work without pay or locked out of work without pay to receive their paycheck as quickly as possible – most likely towards the end of the week of Jan. 28.
Congress needs to pass full-year legislation
While reopening the government is long overdue, we will not celebrate a temporary reprieve to a politically motivated crisis that has left you in anguish over how to pay your bills and feed your family.
“Over the next three weeks, Congress must pass full-year appropriations for all government agencies as well legislation to make all affected federal employees whole,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. “We are also urging Congress to act to prevent the use of shutdowns from ever occurring again.”
We need you to continue to contact your member of congress and senators to keep up the pressure in the next three weeks to make sure that Congress delivers on a deal that will give government workers long-term security.
Join our lawsuit
Even though the government is now open, we’re urging you and all federal employees who have been working without pay during the 35-day government shutdown to join our shutdown lawsuit to be made whole from your loss of income.
The shutdown must never happen again
Trump was forced to end the shutdown because we spoke up and kept the pressure on the administration and Congress. But it could happen again in three weeks. Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Trump is willing to do it all over again.
AFGE and allies organized hundreds of furloughed employees for a protest at the Hart Senate Office Building Jan. 23 to speak out against the longest government shutdown and demand that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately reopen the government. It was part of a pressure campaign of AFGE members and our allies across the nation that helped end the longest shutdown in U.S. history.
“Occupy Hart” protesters were at the Hart building to draw attention to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s failure to do his job and end the shutdown that had created financial chaos for 800,000 federal employees and their families.
As federal employees were poised to miss their second paycheck Jan. 25, McConnell, who had been AWOL since Trump took our government hostage, had failed to use the power that the Framers gave Congress to override a president’s veto if the president refuses their bills.
At the Hart Building, we stood in silence for 33 minutes – one for each day of the shutdown which began Dec. 22 and dragged on to its fifth week Jan. 21.
As we were not allowed to bring protest signs into the building, we wrote our messages on empty plates, symbolizing the hundreds of thousands of federal workers who were unable to buy groceries to feed their families because of the lapse in pay. Workers wrote messages like “Hostage,” “Will work for pay,” “Pay the workers,” “Do your job!” “Please let us work,” and “I love TSA. Pay them!”
Furloughed workers explained to reporters how they couldn’t pay rent, mortgages, food, and other bills because of the shutdown. Some expressed disbelief that they were being held hostage for something that had nothing to do with their work.
“I think we’re being used as pawns,” NASA employee Blake Lorenz told reporters. “What does me doing my job at NASA have to do with a wall?”
Twelve union leaders and allies, including our very own AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. and Political Director Tucker McDonald, were arrested outside McConnell’s office as they refused to leave without meeting McConnell. “Where is Mitch?,” they chanted, highlighting the role he played as a co-conspirator in the shutdown.
Protesters also visited several senators’ offices to pressure them to immediately open the government.
See the Occupy Hart photos here.
Feds still protesting across the country
Besides the main “empty plates rally” at the Hart building, AFGE members and federal workers continued to rally in their hometown to call on the Trump administration and Congress to reopen the government. In Kentucky, furloughed workers and allies gathered at McConnell’s field office in Lexington with signs that read “Tell McConnell to Give Us a Vote!”
Employees from the TSA, Department of Interior, Census Bureau, and Veterans Affairs participated in the protest, which was organized by AFGE.
In St. Louis, Missouri, AFGE members and allies lined the sidewalk in front of the Federal Center to call for an end to the shutdown that has devastated their finances. “Stop the shutdown! We want to work!” they chanted.
In Jacksonville, Florida, AFGE members and allies gathered downtown chanting “End the shutdown, call the vote!” Furloughed workers took turns telling their stories about how the shutdown has affected them and their families. In addition to AFGE, members from more than 10 unions participated, including teachers, electricians, and Teamsters.
Correctional officers put pressure on McConnell in Kentucky
AFGE Council of Prison Locals, which represents over 33,000 federal correctional workers nationwide, took out a series of billboards in Kentucky highlighting the damaging effects the longest government shutdown in U.S. history had on law enforcement and holding Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky accountable for his role in the standoff.
McConnell’s stronghold has five federal facilities in the state - two are United States Penitentiaries.
“A federal prison is already a dangerous and stressful working environment,“ said AFGE Council of Prison Locals President Eric Young. “Now, our members are being required to work mandatory overtime without pay. They’re working 16-hour shifts, worrying about how they’ll be able to pay their rent or mortgage, put gas in the car, afford child care or keep the heat on. It’s a recipe for disaster in an environment where fatigue and distraction could cost you your life.”
The billboards were placed at strategic points along major highways in Kentucky. They feature informational messages about the pain this shutdown is causing federal correctional workers and a call for Mitch McConnell to end the shutdown by bringing H.R. 21 to a vote on the floor of the Senate.
Federal correctional workers – nearly a third of whom are military veterans – are among the government’s lowest paid law enforcement officers, bringing home $500 to $700 a week. Nearly all have been deemed essential and are working without pay – even as the prison inmates they supervise get paid for the jobs they do.
Shutdown ends, for now
The coordinated efforts of AFGE members and our allies in the labor movement and beyond helped bring this standoff to an end with a temporary funding measure that reopened the government through February 15.
But Congress must act soon to make sure this doesn’t happen again in three weeks.
“While reopening the government is long overdue, I will not celebrate a temporary reprieve to a politically motivated crisis that has left many federal employees in anguish over how to pay their bills, feed their families, and keep a roof over their heads,” said AFGE national president J. David Cox Sr.
“Over the next three weeks, Congress must pass full-year appropriations for all government agencies as well legislation to make all affected federal employees whole. We are also urging Congress to act to prevent the use of shutdowns from ever occurring again.”
AFGE applauds ruling that administration illegally gutted workers’ rights, violated labor contracts
WASHINGTON – In a landmark decision, a federal judge has ruled that President Trump violated the U.S. Constitution and laws providing checks and balances in the federal government by attempting to deny more than 2 million federal workers their legal right to representation.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled late friday that the Trump administration’s May 25 executive order on official time violated the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the separation of powers as established in law.
The American Federation of Government Employees, which was the first union to challenge President Trump’s executive orders in court, applauded the judge’s ruling.
“President Trump’s illegal action was a direct assault on the legal rights and protections that Congress specifically guaranteed to the public-sector employees across this country who keep our federal government running every single day,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.
“We are heartened by the judge’s ruling and by the huge outpouring of support shown to federal workers by lawmakers from both parties, fellow union workers, and compassionate citizens across the country,” Cox said. “Our members go to work every single day to serve the American people, and they deserve all the rights and protections afforded to them by our founding fathers.”
AFGE, the largest union representing federal government employees, filed two lawsuits challenging President Trump’s executive orders. The first lawsuit challenged the executive order on official time as a violation of the right to freedom of association guaranteed by the First Amendment, and as exceeding the president’s authority. The second lawsuit charged that the remaining two orders exceed the president’s authority under the U.S. Constitution by violating the separation of powers and exceeding current law.
The impact of these executive orders began being felt months before they were even issued, as the Department of Education in March threw out the contract covering 3,900 federal employees represented by AFGE and implemented its own illegal management edict that strips workers of their union rights, a precursor to what was to come weeks later when President Trump issued the three union-busting, anti-federal worker executive orders. Since the executive orders were signed May 25, other agencies including the Social Security Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs have issued similar edicts in an attempt to eradicate unions from the federal workplace and deny workers their legal right to representation.
“Now that the judge has issued her decision, I urge all agencies that have attempted to enforce this illegal executive order to restore all previously negotiated contracts and to bargain in good faith with employee representatives on any future changes as required under the law,” Cox said.
AFGE-backed Bill Guaranteeing Back Pay for Federal Employees Signed into Law
January 22, 2019
On Jan. 16, AFGE-supported legislation was signed into law that would provide back pay for federal employees forced to work without pay or locked out of their jobs without pay during the shutdown.
Our union thanks all the senators who supported this bill. Our members deserve to be paid for the time they’ve been locked out of their jobs through no fault of their own.
The bill also applies to employees of the D.C. government, D.C. Courts, and D.C. Public Defenders Service affected by the shutdown. In addition, it clarifies that excepted employees who have previously approved leave during the shutdown may take that leave without penalty.
While the guarantee of back pay is certainly good news, it does little to help our members who are struggling to make ends meet during the longest government shutdown in U.S. history – a shutdown that President Trump has said could last for “months or even years.”
It's absolutely critical for our members that Senate Republicans vote to reopen the government immediately. Unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring the House-passed bills that would reopen the government to the floor for a vote, personally blocking it three times this year.
“While signing of this bill guaranteeing back pay for our members and other impacted federal employees is a welcomed development, employees are still left to wonder when they will be paid and when they will be able to go back to work,” AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. said. “Our government should be fully funded and able to provide the American public with quality services.”