Washington D.C. – 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.
NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.
To download photos of today’s petition delivery, click here.