During President Trump’s disastrous shutdown of the federal government, the AFT is jumping in to lend a hand to our members who are among the hundreds of thousands of federal workers either working without pay as “essential” employees or furloughed and needlessly idle. Our union is working hard to end the shutdown and fight for these employees to get their back pay right away.
“The Trump shutdown has plunged thousands of Americans into economic uncertainty and put critical services at risk—from corrections workers to food safety inspectors to those living on tribal lands,” says AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Government workers are missing rent and mortgage payments, defaulting on their student loan debt, and having to choose between food and medicine. As their union, we try to help whenever and wherever we can.”
Those directly hit by the shutdown include members of the AFT-affiliated Federation of Indian Service Employees, who work for federal agencies providing services to Native American communities in cities, towns and tribal lands nationwide. Most FISE members are Native American.
“We’re just here with lots of questions,” says Tony Rowe, a FISE leader in North Dakota, “and our lives are held in the balance.” As a corrections officer at Fort Totten on the Spirit Lake tribal lands, Rowe is considered an essential employee and has been working for weeks without pay.
To help, the AFT has devised two ways of making this tough time a little less stressful for our members:
- One-year, interest-free, no-credit-check loans of up to $1,500 for FISE members. No payments will be due on these loans until after the shutdown has ended. Members can take up to 12 months to repay the loan, and the AFT will pay the interest. To access this special benefit, FISE members can fill out a short form here. They will then be contacted by the AFL-CIO credit union, which is administering the loans.
- A help page for AFT members affected by the shutdown to answer questions and provide current information on the shutdown, its effects on federal employees and our union’s advocacy for members. The help page offers loans for FISE members, answers frequently asked questions, and provides links to federal government resources and additional AFT member benefits. Created specifically for FISE members, the FAQs detail how the furlough will affect families, whether and how it will affect these members’ leave time and health insurance, and what will happen to their Thrift Savings Plans.
The AFT represents federal employees, including corrections officers, firefighters, engineers and budget analysts who work in the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other tribal agencies—work that’s essential to the health and well-being of all Americans. FISE and the AFT will not rest until the shutdown is ended, workers receive back pay and legislation is passed to ensure federal employees are better protected in any future shutdown.
[Annette Licitra/photo by Brianna Meeks]