California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Shutdown: Stop Punishing Federal Workers

President Donald J. Trump’s use of a government shutdown to threaten Congress into pushing a political agenda is wildly inappropriate and unprofessional as it hurts the country’s families and workers.

After the longest-recorded government shutdown in United States history ended Jan. 25, federal employees based in t Ventura County are left to attempt to return to financial normalcy. But they are still worrying over the possibility of partial shutdown if a new resolution is not reached by Feb. 15, according to The Washington Post.

The government’s treatment of these workers as a chess piece to receive funding has left federal workers disheartened and in debt.

While the drama, legislation and political debate can sometimes feel limited to Washington, D.C., the last government shutdown impacted and affected a total of 800,000 federal workers over 35 days, according to CNN.

This record-breaking length of time left local residents such as Erich Schmidt of Ventura to make tough financial decisions during the government shutdown. Schmidt works as the legislative and political coordinator for the American Federation of Government Employees, Carpenters Local 1260 and as a Transportation Security Administration officer.

“I had officers that couldn’t make ends meet and had to determine whether to pay for gas or pay for food or just not show up to work at all,” Schmidt said. “I had officers such as myself that had to determine whether or not to put food on the table or pay for medications.”

President Trump’s willingness to leave the country’s employees to work without pay and to suffer over a policy squabble demonstrates not only his general reactive and unprofessional nature, but also the hypocrisy in how he handles his own politics.

Increased spending toward a border wall “is about whether or not we serve our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve,” Trump said during a national address Jan. 8.

Trying to justify a border wall to protect citizens while leaving 800,000 workers without pay is entirely hypocritical. He has threatened to take similar action if a solution isn’t reached. These threats come as federal workers are just getting back onto their feet, demonstrating his inattention and lack of remorse toward the larger problem at stake–how these shutdowns affect American workers and their families.

It is unfair to treat employees dedicated to making our country safer through airport security, food and drug safety and other federal positions as less-than. The mistreatment of these workers has left some of the 800,000 considering different career options for financial reasons.

Rosa Valdovinos-Guzman, executive secretary for the American Federation of Government Workers, Carpenters Local 1260 and transportation security officer, is setting her sights on the future in case of another shutdown.

“I feel like this is a big wake-up call for people to better their career and better themselves by looking for another job,” Valdovinos-Guzman said.  “Nobody wants to go through this again… I would probably have to leave TSA in the future because I see it’s probably not the best for myself and my family.”

While it is disheartening to hear that some of the dedicated people making this country a better place are left to attempt to return to normalcy after undergoing sudden financial distress, it is even worse to hear that the very government they dutifully serve placed them in this position. And all for what?

In terms of legislation, President Trump was unable to pass any new bills regarding border wall funding, and agreed to reopen the government based on the terms of “short-term funding bills with continuing negotiations on border security,” according to Bloomberg. This could have been done without shutting down the government and subsequently hurting hundreds of thousands of people.

However, for some people, returning back to square one will be impossible as they continue to face financial challenges. With another possible partial shutdown this month, it is this mistreatment of workers that hurts this country the most.

“It is 800,000 working men and women and their families that are being treated as though they’re disposable,” Schmidt said. “We have to ask ourselves this question; Is that how we treat working men and women?”

Erin Niemi
Reporter

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