Silent march held for federal workers forced to work without pay

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It’s Day 27 of the government shutdown and many workers in Hawaii are still not getting paid. 

The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employees union, held a silent march at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on Thursday, Jan. 17, to show support for those workers. 

About 100 people came out to march in solidarity for the federal workers forced to work without pay. 

“We’re here to show our support for [the workers],” said Randy Perreira, AFL-CIO Hawaii president.

“I think everybody understands they’re the victims of politics in Washington D.C. and silly politics it seems,” he said. 

Perreira says Hawaii employees have been showing up for work and not calling in sick.

“Here in Hawaii, it’s not an issue. I think the TSA employees in particular have shown a great amount of dedication to make sure that they’re doing their role in making sure transportation is safe even though they’re not getting paid,” Perreira said. 

In Hawaii, 2,741 federal workers are not getting a pay check and Friday, Jan. 18, will mark three weeks since they last did, and families say it’s starting to take a toll. 

“It’s affecting my family of three— I have a small apartment— and I just borrowed money to pay my mortgage for this month,” said Chris Reimers, TSA officer for 16 years. 

“I don’t know about next month,” he said. 

Reimers said he knows of families where both parents are federal workers and not getting paid
“We have officers that have numerous children and don’t know how they’re going to feed them, let alone get them to child care, and then pay for child care and then show up for work,” said Lisa Marie Akau, national organizer for American Federation of Government Employees.

“It’s only going to get worse,” she said.

During the silent march, airport employees were clapping to show support. 

“I just hope this ends soon,” said Reimers. 

“I don’t know what’s going to happen, my electricity might go out, we have car payments, and we have lots of bills so we don’t know,” he said. 

President Trump signed a bill on Wednesday to provide federal workers with back pay once the shutdown is over, but that doesn’t help families now. 

“I don’t know how long these people can hang on, especially with their families, its unknown,” said Reimers. 

Federal workers are not allowed to go on strike. 

Airlines and employees have been donating food to federal workers. 

People can donate food and supplies to the Hawaii Foodbank or look at the Hawaii AFL-CIO website here.  
 

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