“No shutdown, let’s work!"
This was the anthem of protestors demonstrating today in front of the Federal Center in St. Louis. The protest, comprised of federal employees and their supporters, was organized by the American Federation of Government Employees in response to the shutdown’s effect on furloughed government workers.
Beyond the loss of wages for government employees, protestors also criticized the shutdown of some government services.
“I think it’s insane that one group within congress is holding hostage government services,” said Steve Hollis, president of AFGE Local 3354 and representative of U.S. Department of Agriculture employees in Missouri.
Hollis said that if the shutdown continues, it will affect services offered to rural farming communities and homeowners, which could result in rural homeowners losing their homes.
“A large number of people will not be able to pay their bills, will not be able to buy gasoline and will not be able to buy food at the same level,” Hollis said. “We’ve estimated it’s about a $5 million loss a day in wages to the St. Louis economy.”
Lew Moye, a retiree and the president of the St. Louis chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, said that the shutdown affects everyone seeking government services made unavailable by the shutdown.
“As taxpayers, we pay for those services, and we want those services to continue,” Moye said. “Right now we don’t have a voice in it, and the people who are supposed to be representing us are not taking into consideration the effect they have on normal people like myself.”
The protestors say they will return to the Federal Center daily, until the government reopens.
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