PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Furloughed federal workers rallied outside the Liberty Bell on Tuesday to protest the government shutdown which is now in its third week. The rally comes ahead of President Donald Trump’s address to the nation this evening.
Tuesday marks the 18th day of the partial government shutdown and furloughed federal workers in the area are making their voices heard.
Lawmakers, along with a couple hundred off-the-job federal workers, rallied on Independence Mall. Many of them fear missed car and mortgage payments could be the tip of the iceberg of financial disaster if Washington doesn’t end the shutdown.
Furloughed EPA, IRA, National Park Service and Air Traffic Control employees were at the rally. One worker says she maintains an emergency government shutdown credit card to pay for expenses because she’s been through this before.
The most unsettling element is the prospect that there’s no telling when this might be resolved.
“I need a car to be a revenue officer,” said Karen Ricks of the IRS. “I have a car payment coming up and no paycheck. If I can’t pay for my car once the shutdown ends, how am I going to work? I could lose my car. This President is talking about months, years. This is all just nonsense.”
“This is a picture of me five years ago in October where we had the exact same circumstances,” said President of AFGE Local 200 Robert Challender.
Robert Challender and his wife, Donna, are from Atlantic City and are now stuck weathering in difficult financial times.
“We just got a call from the mortgage company today, the payment wasn’t made,” said Donna Challender.
“My wife has been laid off from her private industry job for three months now, we won’t have any paychecks,” added Robert.
Missed bill payments, corners cut, ends no longer meeting, no income has wiped out financial security for nearly 20,000 federal workers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
“I have a four year old son, paying for daycare and all those things, and you just don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Adam Duncan of AFGE Local 2058. “That’s the hardest part about it, the unknown.”
Workers also counter the critics who say they’ll get paid at the end because it’s not a fair assessment.
For these workers, it has little to do with the bickering in Washington — it’s about making ends meet.