Fed union leaders push back against second shutdown

Federal employees and the unions that represent them are increasingly on edge about what many see as the “worst case scenario”—a second shutdown, coming less than a month after feds warily celebrated a White House-Capitol Hill deal ending the last one.

Feb. 15 is the last day for lawmakers and the White House to act to avoid another shutdown.

The parties must come to an agreement by that date to pass legislation funding much of the federal government—including the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Justice Interior, State, Transportation, and Treasury as well as many independent agencies. Otherwise, shutdown begins anew.

“Federal employees are counting on Congress and the administration to pass the remaining appropriations bills, avoid another disastrous shutdown and recognize the valuable contributions of the federal workforce by ensuring they receive a fair pay raise each year,” Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in a Feb. 7 release—the union’s latest jab at political leaders to stop playing games with employee work and pay, and the public’s needed services.  

“A constant threat of a government shutdown is taking its toll on the federal workforce,” the American Federation of Government Employees warned, in a Feb. 4 release still leading the AFGE website news feed. “Federal employees did not join public service to get rich, but they have bills to pay and families to feed. Being taken hostage in political fights shouldn’t be a job requirement for federal researchers looking to find cures to diseases, for TSA officers trying to keep bombs off the planes, for correctional officers who keep the most dangerous criminals behind bars.”

“We’re urging Congress to pass full-year appropriations and debate policy matters without shutting down our government,” AFGE said.

Some unions are pushing against the shutdown—while arguably using quite hopeful language about

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) strongly urged the Senate and House to come to an agreement on funding before the current Continuing Resolution runs out on February 15th,” the National Federation of Federal Employees noted in an early February, and prominently featured, press release.

NFFE noted that early this month, a “conference committee of 17 lawmakers from both parties in the House and Senate” was meeting regularly and “demonstrating a much different tone between chambers and parties since the end of the 35-day shutdown.” 

“The White House remains an unknown factor if a compromise is reached in Congress,” the NFFE release cautioned.

From Dec. 22, 2018 through Jan. 25, 2019—a full 35 days—federal employees and contractors suffered the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history, with an end to funding and partial shutdown of more than a quarter of the federal government’s departments and agencies. The compromise agreement, in the form of a three-week spending bill, that is funding many agencies provided only a three-week temporary fix for the problem.

Reader comments

Fri, Feb 15, 2019

Unions need to get lean and mean and show strength rather than the bloat we pay for at the current time. Lots of talk and no action.

Thu, Feb 14, 2019

Unions have been gutted by leaders who cave in to the whims of the president, congress and senate.

Thu, Feb 14, 2019 martin

definitely time for collective power through unions! together only way to be powerful.

Wed, Feb 13, 2019 Caz Alaska

Look folks, this isn't about we in the federal workforce, it's about what is good for the direction of the country and its citizens. There are no nets in the private sector, nor should there be, other than that old-time one called preparation. Time to stop focusing on individual impact and push for collective good for all.

Wed, Feb 13, 2019 martin

without the union, things would be much, much worse, buddy.

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