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Program Information
 Building Bridges 
 Weekly Program
 Hector Figueroa, President Local 32BJ, SEIU
 Ken Nash and Mimi Rosenberg  
 See Notes.
 Attribution (by) 
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We Are The Ones Weve Been Waiting For: Federal Workers Dont Have To Be The Sacrificial Lambs for Trumps Political Hijinks to Fund His Wall!
Hector Figueroa, President, Local 32BJ, SEIU

"Almost a million workers are locked out or being forced to work without pay. Others are going to work when our workspace is increasingly unsafe. What is the Labor Movement waiting for? Go back with the Fierce Urgency of NOW to talk with your Locals and International unions about all of the workers joining together. To End this Shutdown with a General Strike."
Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants, CWA

The federal government shut down on December 22, locking out almost 400,000 workers and forcing another 400,000 deemed essential to show up to work without pay. A larger number of employees working for employers with Federal contracts were laid off with no hope of ever recouping their losses. The public was also hurt by their loss of government services including increased risks to aviation safety,

The ongoing holiday lockout is the most recent insult the federal government has hurled at its workers. But pay and benefits have been deteriorating for years, and conditions look set to degrade even faster in the near future.According to data compiled by Government Executive, civilian federal workers have received an annualized raise of 1.48 percent per year since 2008, including three years of zero raises under President Obama. During the same period, workers health insurance premiums increased up to 7 percent a year, though more recently the increase has been smaller.

And this year, President Trump not only threatened a wage freeze for federal employees, he also proposed cutting their retirement benefits by $143.5 billion. Congress counter-proposed a 1.9 percent wage increase, but with the government shut down, it is unclear whether federal workers will receive raises or maintain their pension benefits this year. A recent study found that federal workers salaries are already 31 percent below comparable jobs in the private sector on average, though the disparity varies greatly by job title.

Many of these workers are union members, affiliated with the American Federal Government Employees (AFGE). The union sued the federal government, claiming that it is illegal to require workers to work without paying them. But a more militant labor movement could respond to a shutdown very differently, with mass demonstrations across the country for example.

Federal workers are strategically positioned to take advantage of. seizing the choke points within the U.S. economy and society.. Theres a potential army of 400,000 furloughed federal workers, not just in D.C. but based at government offices across the country. What if, taking a note from the yellow vests movement in France, these workers and their allies established picket lines blocking major roads and highways, halting all nonemergency traffic? Certainly that traffic would also include package delivery trucks and tractor trailers hauling goods for their own high-demand peak season.

Imagine the political fallout of this massive economic disruption, all because Trump wants a border wall. Even the MAGA hat-wearers would likely prefer their packages delivered on time over a wall that they will never even see. The reopening of the government under these conditions would be a massive victory of the labor movement, a product of our own collective efforts rather than that of closed-door negotiations between legislators and the White House.

If federal workers want to stop the attacks on their livelihoods and their dignity, the only realistic path is the same as for any group of workers facing a mean and unpredictable boss, cuts to pay and benefits in real dollars, and unexpected furloughs: they need to organize. Federal workers wont be consistently treated with real respect and dignity until they can present a credible threat to shut down the government " on their terms, not their bosses.
produced by Ken Nash and Mimi Rosenberg
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00:28:40 English 2019-01-28
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