Federal workers and furloughed employees are holding a rally Thursday at the Ogden Federal Building to protest the government shutdown. Ogden-Clearfield is one of the top 10 metro areas in the country affected by the furloughs. Hill Air Force Base is Utah's largest employer with some 25,000 federal employees and contractors.
The American Federation of Government Employees Local 1592 represents about 8000 mechanics, electricians, sheet-metal workers and others at Hill Air Force Base. Local President Monty Lewis says 2700 of those members have been furloughed, and thousands deemed mission critical are working without pay – though they are expected to receive back-pay at some point.
“Federal employees are tired of being treated like punching bags, like pawns in a game of chess that’s being played in Washington DC by the politicians,” Lewis says.
Those in the Department of Defense have already had six furlough days this year due to sequestration, but Lewis says those days were at least defined and limited. No one knows when this particular standoff is going to end. Lewis says federal workers are demoralized.
“Not knowing if you’re going to get a paycheck when you have a mortgage pay, groceries to buy, and if you have young children - t’s just not a good state of mind to be in, especially if you’re being required to still work on the aircraft that’s going to support the war fighter in Afghanistan – you still have to do a quality job. But you shouldn’t have to be doing that worrying about if you’re going to get a check or not because of Congress not doing their job,” Lewis says.
Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT1) has co-signed a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel asking him to cancel any furlough plans for civilian defense workers, those in the National Guard and reservists. Bishop has also co-signed legislation to give back-pay to federal civilian workers. Lewis says his union is pleased that Bishop is supporting federal workers, but they will not be satisfied until the shutdown ends.