The Country’s Longest Government Shutdown Creates Unexpected Problems for Workers

The partial government shutdown entered its 23rd day on Sunday, making it the longest in American history. To address what the Democrats are calling the “Trump Shutdown,” Rep. Nydia Velázquez assembled local union representatives and federal workers to discuss the impact the shutdown is having on them.

“It’s not about the shutdown,” said Velázquez, “it’s about the people that are mostly impacted by the shutdown. And I am afraid that by hearing, watching the news, the people of this country… are getting numb. And we need to get back to understanding the human toll that this is taking.”

She was joined a the press conference by other local House Democrats — Carolyn Maloney, Eliot Engel — as well as Alison Hirsh, Vice President of 32BJ SEIU and Tim McLaughlin of the National Representation of the American Federation of Government Employees, District 2.

One of the furloughed federal workers who spoke was Antony Tseng, an environmental engineer with the Environmental Protection Agency office in New York, and a father of two college-aged children.

“As a single father it’s very sad to look in my kids’ eyes, and say, ‘everything’s going to be okay,’ Because I don’t know if everything’s going to be okay.”

His furlough has been complicated by the news that he might be deployed to fire-damaged areas in California next week. If that happens, he will be classified as an “essential employee” and required to work without pay. However, he’s unsure of the details because he’s not allowed to access the EPA’s computer systems during the shutdown.

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