New York, NY – How badly is Trump’s government shutdown hurting American workers? Last week, Senator James Sanders, Jr. (D-Rochdale Village, Far Rockaway) held a collection drive aimed at helping some federal workers in the area struggling for over a month without a paycheck. Food and other non-perishable necessities such as toiletries, diapers and baby formula were on the list for the drive.
The shutdown began on December 22, 2018 and the end is nowhere in sight. The issue continues to be President Trump’s demand that U.S. taxpayers pay for a wall along the U.S. – Mexico border – a wall Trump insisted Mexico would be forced to fund. Congressional Democrats have refused to agree to the $5.7 billion price tag. Meanwhile, 800,000 federal workers and their families have been left trying to make ends meet. To make matters worse, many of those federal workers are legally compelled to continue working their jobs even without a paycheck.
“These hardworking men and women who serve our nation should not be punished, or left struggling to support themselves and their families over Trump’s feud with Congress,” Sanders said. “We should all do our part to help these federal workers during their time of need.”
Senator Sanders’ collection drive is being conducted with support from the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) the largest federal employee union – representing 700,000 federal and D.C. government workers nationwide and overseas, and the Rosedale-Laurelton American Legion Post 483, which operates a local food pantry.
In the New York City area, the AFGE has over 10,000 members, and of those, 6,000 are not receiving paychecks due to the government shutdown, according to Timothy McLaughlin, National Representative of the 2nd District of the AFGE. He said these members speak to him on a daily basis about their anger, desperation and confusion over their current predicament.
It’s absolutely despicable to have people work and not pay them. — Timothy McLaughlin, National Representative of the 2nd District of the AFGE.
“It’s absolutely despicable to have people work and not pay them,” McLaughlin said.
Shortly after launching the collection drive, Senator Sanders received his first donations, and they came from former Assembly Member Phil Goldfeder on behalf of Cross River Bank, the company for whom he now serves as SVP of Public Affairs. “We appreciate this generosity,” Sanders said. “Our collection drive is off to a good start.” Community leader Earl Roberts contributed canned goods and bottles of Ensure; Rev. Stanley Mann contributed a large box of food. He brought everything from canned goods and cereal to instant dry milk and pre-packaged beef stew. He told those on hand he was just trying to be a good Christian.
Those affected by the government shutdown include agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), as well as staff from the State Department, Coast Guard, IRS, Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the State Department, the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the Transportation Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the IRS.
“We don’t know these people, but they are not strangers to us,” Senator Sanders said. “These are our neighbors. These are very proud people who are usually the ones giving to the food pantries. They are not used to coming and receiving from the food pantries. To the workers, I say, the shame is not yours. You need to come out. Don’t sit in your home hungry.”