While Congress scrambled for a last-minute solution Wednesday to end the government shutdown, federal employees in Springfield took to the streets to protest about being forced to work without being paid.
“The federal employees are not allowed to strike, so our only recourse is what you see out here today, standing in the rain to show you what our displeasure is,” said Rick Hanna, vice president of the federal workers union Local #3448 AFGE.
At the Social Security Administration office in Springfield, 21 employees have been working without pay since the federal government shutdown began. Another employee is on furlough.
About 10 employees waited until their lunch break Wednesday before walking to the sidewalk on North Limestone Street armed with signs. They contained messages such as “Stop Playing Games with My Life,” and “Working With No Pay. Would You Like It?” Several motorists honked in support as they drove by, and others yelled at them to get back to work.
Among the protesters was Khayesha Peterson, who’s worked for the Social Security office for 11 years. She’s seven months pregnant and stood in the rain with her co-workers, holding a sign, because “this is our chance to show people the shutdown affects us,” she said.
Her husband also worked without pay at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The family hasn’t received a paycheck in two weeks. While planning has allowed them to cover their bills and put food on the table, Peterson said she’s had to tell her two daughters, who are 8 and 6 years old, they can’t buy Halloween costumes or go out to eat.
“When I got out of college, I took a job with the government because I thought it was secure,” Peterson said. “Things like this, I didn’t think I’d ever have to worry about.”
The Springfield workers should get backpay per their contracts when the government reopens for regular business. But even with a signed deal, Hanna said it’s unclear how long it could take for federal workers to receive their next paycheck. That’s why they urged Congress to take quick action.
“In the Miami Valley, you’ve got a lot of government employees. Stand up for the government employees. Quit playing posturing games,” Hanna said.
Steve Chance, a Dayton resident who is not a federal employee, stopped when he saw the protesters on the sidewalk and grabbed a sign. He said he wanted to show his support.
“This has just gone on too long. It never should have got to this point,” Chance said.