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  • Federal government workers march in Washington D.C., U.S., Jan. 10, 2019.

    Federal government workers march in Washington D.C., U.S., Jan. 10, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 January 2019

Federal employees marched in front of the White House, chanting slogans which included "We Want Our Pay!", "Stop The Shutdown!" and "We Want to Work!"

United States federal employees launched protests Thursday in different cities to demand the end of the administration's partial government closure, which has been paralyzing the country for the last 20 days, due to President Donald Trump's steady desire for border wall funding.

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"Thousands of hard-working Americans are being excluded from their jobs for no other reason than the politics of fear. Shame on the Senate! Shame on the White House!," Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO - the largest union platform in the country, declared.

On the 20th day of a partial shutdown, furloughed federal employees marched in front of the White House, chanting slogans which included "We Want Our Pay!", "Stop The Shutdown!" and "We Want to Work!"

One of them, Elaine Suriano, a 62-year-old environmental protection agency scientist, said she will be forced to dip into her retirement savings if the shutdown continues. "It's just clear that [Trump] administration doesn't understand normal people and real life or they wouldn't do this," Suriano said.

Mathew Crichton, a Peace Corps employee, said uncertainty over how long the shutdown will last made it impossible to budget for food, lodging and other needs. "It could go on another day, and it could go on more weeks. It could go on for months," Crichton said and added that "it's really a shame that I'm ready to go to work, I'm able to go to work and I can't."

In cities such as Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), Ogden (Utah) or Denver (Colorado) there were also various manifestations of union pushback. Protesters, wearing green vests which read "I am a worker, I demand a voice," asked for detaching the U.S. Federal Administration's functioning from any debate over President Trump's border wall funding.

To deal with the suspension of payments, thousands of federal employees have decided to apply for unemployment benefits, even though technically they do have a job.

More than 4,700 public workers joined the unemployment lists in the last week of December, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This procedure will allow the affected individuals to receive financial compensation for being officially unemployed.

Once the U.S. government is reopened, federal workers could collect their past payrolls. However, thousands of subcontracted employees will not have the same benefit.

Other federal workers have also turned to online fundraising outlets such as GoFundMe.com to help cover expenses from food to utility bills.

On Dec. 22, 2018, U.S. President Trump decided on a partial closure of the Federal Administration, seeking to put pressure on Congress to approve a US$5.7-billion funding for the construction of a wall at the border with Mexico, a device Trump states will deter Central American migrants from entering the country.

Besides affecting 800,000 employees who have stopped receiving their salary, Trump's government shutdown has disrupted the operations of different tourist facilities and activities of agencies which are yet to be assigned new resources.

Little or no advances toward ending the partial shutdown have occurred, since Trump has been intransigent in his negotiations with Democrats.


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