January 21, 2019 In The News, Media

‘It destroys you.’ At 1 month mark, N.J.’s federal workers call for end to government shutdown.

January 21, 2019

Standing near the wall inside of the crowded Teamsters Local 331 hall in Egg Harbor City, Karen Bown, a federal contractor for 18 years, held a sign saying “End this Shutdown” with tears in her eyes.

“Every single day, I don’t know if I will have a job,” said Bown, a contractor working at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Tech Center in Mays Landing. “It has been that way for a month, so I’m very emotional, and I’m very sad that our government has gone this way.”

Bown and her husband, who is also a federal contractor, said they worry about her family’s health benefits, and said she has had to take some cost-saving measures because of the shutdown.

“My son was helping me clean the house yesterday, and I reminded him that I appreciated his help, but he wouldn’t get an allowance this week,” Bown said. “He grabbed my arm, rubbed it, and said ‘Mom, can I give you (back) some of my allowance?’ It crushed me because an 11-year-old boy shouldn’t have to think like that.”

Bown’s story is just one of the many shared Monday at a rally held by U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, and Congressmen Donald Norcross and Jeff Van Drew. The three Democrats slammed Republican President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and urged a reopening of the government so federal workers and contractors can once again start earning paychecks.

Representatives from unions like the National Air Traffic Controllers, the National Federation of Federal Employees, and the Federal Managers Association joined in the rally.

“My view is you can open the government, and then you can go on negotiating,” Menendez said, also taking a jab at the president’s past dealings in Atlantic City.

“He did a good job of screwing over casinos and vendors and employees when he was in Atlantic City,” Menendez said. “Now, he is running the government into the ground, and 800,000 American workers aren’t getting paid. We’ve had enough.”

Norcorss, who is a former union member, said he hoped the shutdown would be over soon.

“My job is to work across the aisle to get the government back open. It’s not fair to those who are our public servants,” he said.

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