A federal worker posts a sign a turning away potential park-goers. (AP)
Seven days after the government shutdown began, workers nationwide continue to protest missing out on paychecks.
In Houston, workers staged a protest outside the VA Hospital to say lawmakers are putting politics above the well-being of workers and their families.
Fernando Grajales, a government worker who represents the local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees, was protesting alongside workers from NASA and TSA, among other government agencies.
“We’re asking people to call their congressmen and tell them to do what they are paid to do,” Grajales said to ABC.
While many workers have been told not to come to work, others are expected to labor without compensations, such as TSA screener Mike Sanders.
“We’re still having to work, but we’re not going to get any pay,” Sanders said to ABC. “We’re not getting paid.”
Working without compensation is a reality for many government employees, including the Capitol Police, who were on duty when Miriam Carey led officers on a car chase originating at the White House before fatally shooting her outside the US Capitol.
“We’re protesting against the shutdown, to Congress to do their job,” NASA employee Bridget Broussard-Guidry said to ABC. “If we didn’t do our job, we would be fired.”
ABC reports that federal workers might receive retroactive pay once the government reopens, but many workers say this fails to address the bigger issue: “Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, independent, you cannot be happy with what’s going on in Washington,” veteran Kenneth Aitken said.
Clifton Buchanan, who works at the prison in downtown Houston, says the shutdown has him working for free.
“It affects us because we’re required, as law enforcement officers, to come to work even though we will not be getting paid,” he said to Newsfix. “It just doesn’t make sense that we’re having to go without pay and many of us will get behind and will not be able to fill our financial obligations.”
On Friday, several hundred workers gathered on Capitol Hill for a rally organized by federal worker labor unions and democratic lawmakers.