‘No pay, no peace:’ Federal workers protest government shutdown in Richmond

Posted at 6:58 PM, Jan 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-24 18:58:35-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Federal workers from several agencies marched in pouring rain Thursday afternoon outside the Richmond office of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The workers say they are fed up with working without pay as the partial government shutdown enters day 34.

“They’re using us as pawns. We aren’t pawns in this political game. We’re people who want to work, who want to bring a paycheck home every two weeks,” said Adam Orlovich, a legislative/political organizer with AFGE (American Federation of Government Employees).

Some protesters were furloughed HUD workers, while others were excepted employees from the Department of Defense.

“We have to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters that are not getting paid,” said Monique Samuels, who works at the Defense Supply Center.

“It’s a constant struggle,” said Dr. Brenda Saunders.

Saunders works at the federal prison in Petersburg and represents the roughly 350 other workers there.

She says without a paycheck, she has to make tough choices every day.

“Put gas in the car versus paying that particular bill,” said Saunders.

Saunders says it’s a delicate balance because missing work or a debt payment, could cost her her job because of her agency’s rules.

“At the end of the day, is there a likelihood that I could be losing my job after 17-years in the bureau? That’s possible,” she acknowledged.

But Saunders says as she continues to work, she is worried about her safety in the prison as the shutdown continues.

Some workers may no longer be able to make it in, which would lead to longer shifts for those who can.

“Nothing that serious has happened, but I am concerned if we don't do something soon... if we don’t get this resolved soon. I can't say what's going to happen,” said Saunders.

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