Arkansas federal employees union rallies to end government shutdown
NORTH LITTLE ROCK (KATV) —
Members of the country's largest federal employee union rallied in Arkansas on Monday, asking for Congress and President Donald Trump to reopen the government and get back to work.
Barbara Casanova, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said they’re beyond frustrated at this point as thousands of Arkansans continue to go without a paycheck.
"There doesn't seem to be an end in sight,” she said. “I know our president has said that he'll hold out for months or even years, but the American people can't. Particularly those who depend on that paycheck to take care of their family."
Another labor union, members of the Arkansas chapter of American Federal Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, joined the rally, chanting and demanding to be paid for their work.
“These families are suffering," said AFL-CIO president Alan Hughes. "So many people live from paycheck to paycheck. Now they're doing without. How long can they continue doing this? And at the same time, they quit spending. They quit spending at your mom and pop stores and everywhere else, too, so it's affecting everyone."
Due to the historic length of the government shutdown, the AFGE chapter in North Little Rock is collecting donations to help federal workers get by.
"It's been a very trying year and particularly for federal employees," Casanova said. "We've suffered through pay freezes, contracting out in many forms -- it's a very trying, difficult time for us."
During the rally, members also had a message to Congress.
"Let them work it out -- that's what they're supposed to do, like grownups," Hughes said. "Get up there, negotiate and work it out but quit using other people's lives as your leverage."
Donations such as non-perishable food items, diapers and water can be brought too the AFGE office at 1003 W. 33rd St. in North Little Rock during normal business hours.