Fed­eral work­ers rally in Bos­ton to de­mand end to shutdown

Pawtucket Times - - RELIGION/OBITUARIES -

BOS­TON (AP) — Fed­eral work­ers who aren’t get­ting pay­checks amid the lin­ger­ing gov­ern­ment shutdown ral­lied in Bos­ton Fri­day to call on Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to drop his de­mand for fund­ing for a wall on the south­ern U.S. bor­der.

Fur­loughed work­ers car­ry­ing signs with mes­sages such as “Don’t Wall Feds Out” chanted “Let us serve” and “We want to work” in the frigid cold as oth­ers de­scribed the toll the three-week im­passe is be­gin­ning to have on their fam­i­lies.

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, who joined the work­ers, ac­cused the Repub­li­can pres­i­dent of us­ing fed­eral work­ers as “hostages” and “pawns” in a po­lit­i­cal game and said he will forgo his Sen­ate pay­check un­til all fed­eral work­ers get paid.

“That is cruel and it is un­con­scionable that fam­i­lies must suf­fer be­cause the pres­i­dent has a fan­tasy which he has been en­gag­ing in for the past two years,” the Demo­crat said.

Leiran Bi­ton, a fur­loughed em­ployee with the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, said if the shutdown lasts for months, he sus­pects fed­eral work­ers will start look­ing for other jobs.

“We’re not gonna stick around,” he said.

“My job has noth­ing to do with the wall, bor­der se­cu­rity, im­mi­gra­tion,” said Bi­ton, a 39-year-old with two kids who works in the EPA’s air per­mit­ting program. “Get me back to work.”

Fed­eral prison work­ers, who are still work­ing but aren’t get­ting paid, held signs that read: “Law en­force­ment of­fi­cers are not pawns in your chess game.”

David Martinez, who rep­re­sents work­ers at a fed­eral prison in Mas­sachusetts, called it a “tragedy” that prison staff must con­tinue to work in dan­ger­ous con­di­tions with­out know­ing when their next pay­check will ar­rive.

“The risk to us hasn’t changed one iota. Tonight, here in the com­mon­wealth and across this coun­try where there is a fed­eral prison, my co-work­ers will go into hous­ing units, they’ll be locked in with over 200 sex of­fend­ers, mur­ders and drug deal­ers and they’ll be all alone,” Martinez said.

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