The Teamsters stood shoulder to shoulder with workers affected by the longest federal government shutdown in American history earlier this year.
The shutdown, which lasted from Dec. 22, 2018 to Jan. 25, 2019, forced 800,000 Americans who work for the federal government to go more than a month without pay. The effect reached far beyond government workers, though. Hundreds of thousands of federal contractors—many of whom are low-wage workers in the service sector—didn’t get paid and won’t be reimbursed for lost wages.
The economic loss due to the shutdown was tremendous.
In the thick of the shutdown, General President Jim Hoffa joined other labor leaders at a rally in the nation’s capital to call for an end of the shutdown.
“We all know what’s going on,” Hoffa told union workers, including many Teamsters, at the rally outside Nationals Park. “We are here to rally with you and call for the vote. It’s time for this to come to an end.”
The rally was one of several that occurred during the shutdown, including a rally outside the AFL-CIO headquarters and another in one of the Senate office buildings.
“Congress is getting paid, but the most essential people, the government workers, aren’t getting paid. I call for them to go on and do their job!” Hoffa said. “It’s time for elected leaders to get off the sidelines and back to negotiating an agreement that will return workers to their jobs with pay. They deserve it, their families deserve it, and the American public deserves to have a functioning government that provides the services their tax dollars are supposed to cover.”
It wasn’t just in Washington, D.C. where Teamsters showed their solidarity with those affected by the shutdown.
As a gesture of union solidarity, members of the Local 357 Executive Board led a group of Teamsters employed by Republic Airline on a visit to the Indianapolis International Airport Terminal Radar Approach Control Facilities (TRACON) to bring lunch to air traffic controllers.
The air traffic controllers, who had been working without pay due to the government shutdown, are members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
Local 357 President Josh LeBlanc is a Republic Airline pilot who has been with the company for over 18 years. He emphasized that the government shutdown was having a negative impact on pilots not just at Republic Airline, but all across the country.
“We are doing this to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in aviation who are affected by the federal government shutdown and to bring awareness to the many different issues this continued shutdown is creating,” LeBlanc said.