January 15, 2019: A way out?

Two Federal employee unions, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) filed suits on behalf of Federal employees who have had to work during the shutdown but have not been paid (“essential” or “excepted” employees). The grounds for the suits are that these government workers are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires that workers get paid timely. However, under the Antideficiency Act, excepted employees cannot be paid until there is an appropriation.

I don’t know when these suits will be heard. However, if the judge rules in favor of the unions, there will be only two choices. Either no Federal employee who is in an Agency that isn’t funded works (including the TSA agents and Air Traffic Controllers) or an appropriation passes. If the airports have to shut down, the pressure to end the shutdown will be immense.

The only question that I have is this: does anyone know when these suits will be heard?

Follow up — According to the Washington Post, the judge could rule today.

From the Washington Post article:

Leon (the judge) said he planned to rule immediately from the bench — meaning he could issue a temporary restraining order compelling the government to pay its employees — a move that could affect the partial government shutdown and force movement in the White House or on Capitol Hill. In the event the government is forced to pay workers or allow them to go home, it could break the shutdown impasse or lead to critical jobs going vacant indefinitely.

“If he rules in our favor and determines it was unconstitutional for the government to require workers to come to work and not pay them, it should put pressure on political branches to come to some resolution and end the shutdown,” said Greg O’Duden, the general counsel for the National Treasury Employees Union, which has filed two lawsuits against the government.

Update. According to the Washington Post, the judge ruled against the unions. The shutdown continues…. 😦

A federal judge in Washington on Tuesday refused to force the government to pay federal employees who have been working without compensation during the partial government shutdown, rejecting arguments from labor unions that unpaid work violates labor laws and the Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon said it would be “profoundly irresponsible” to issue an order that would result in thousands of employees staying home from work.

“At best it would create chaos and confusion,” Leon said. “At worst it could be catastrophic . . . I’m not going to put people’s lives at risk.”

Leon ruled against a consolidated claim that the National Treasury Employees Union and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association filed against the government, alleging that employees should not be forced to work without pay. The list of unionized employees who have had to work with pay during the shutdown include the Internal Revenue Service, Customs and Border Protection, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service, the Agriculture Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission.

January 10, 2019: Making my voice heard

I joined hundreds of other members of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the Services Employees International Union (SEIU), the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) and other groups for a rally near the White House. Besides Federal employees, other speakers included Senators Ben Cardin (MD), Chris Van Hollen (MD), Mark Warner (VA), Mazie Hirono (HI), and Bernie Sanders (VT).

All we are asking for is the chance for those of us who are furloughed to be allowed to return to work and those who are essential to get paid for the work that they are doing. I’m including a couple of links. The first is an article from the Washington Post. The second is a video from the NTEU’s Facebook page. Finally, I’ll include some photos that I took.

NTEU President Anthony Reardon
Senator Bernie Sanders
Marching by the White House

January 9, 2019: Make Your Voice Heard

I am posting this from my Federal employees’ union.

NTEU and other federal employee unions are conducting a rally to end the shutdown this Thursday, Jan. 10.


This shutdown has gone on too long. You and 800,000 federal employees are hurting and it is time to raise our voices and say “No More”. We need to send a message to Congress and the administration that a shutdown hurts American families and halts vital services for the public.

Join National President Tony Reardon, congressional leaders, other labor leaders, NTEU members and federal employees from across government to publicly call for an end to the shutdown, demand that federal employees be paid promptly, and that the federal workforce be given a pay raise this year.

Rally Details
Noon to 1 pm
Thursday (Jan. 10)
AFL-CIO Headquarters
815 16th St NW
Washington, D.C.

Nearest Metro stations are McPherson Square (Blue, Orange and Silver lines) and Farragut North (Red line).

Join us! If you are in the Washington, D.C., area bring your chapter members, family and friends. Wear your NTEU gear and be ready to get loud.

Not in DC? You can still make your voice heard. Plan to visit the NTEU Legislative Action Center on Thursday and send a message to Congress and the administration that you want the shutdown to end.