Representative Richard M. Haggerty joined his colleagues in front of the Massachusetts State House for a rally in solidarity with workers affected by the government shutdown. January 17th marked the 27th day since Congress and the President failed to reach a spending agreement causing over 420,000 federal employees continue to work without pay and another 380,000 are furloughed. This is the longest government shutdown in American history.
“Our office remains deeply sympathetic to the workers and families affected by this current shutdown and the unfortunate consequences that have come from it,” said Representative Haggerty (D–Woburn). “I will continue to remain involved wherever the opportunity presents itself to safeguard the well-being of Woburn and Reading’s families during these troubling times.”
Representative Haggerty also announced he will be co-signing fellow Representative Ken Gordon’s recently filed bill to protect the Commonwealth’s furloughed federal employees. If passed, HD.442 would extend unemployment benefits to these affected federal workers, ensuring both them and their families are provided for while the federal government shutdown continues.
The rally was organized by the National Treasury Employees Union, with support from the Mass AFL-CIO and the National Association of Government Employees. The speakers highlighted the plight of federal workers who are performing their duties without pay. Employees shared how the shutdown has forced them to deplete their savings to cover basic living expenses like rent, child care, and groceries. Others face the threat of eviction or defaulting on financial obligations. Many stressed that the critical work they perform is now being done at a substandard level or simply not performed at all.
“The concept that Congress and the President would use public servants who are charged with ensuring our physical and economic security as bargaining chips for political gain isn’t just downright wrong, it’s un-American,” State Representative Paul Brodeur said. Brodeur, who served as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development last session, hosted and helped organize the rally.
In Massachusetts 8,200 federal employees are currently furloughed or working without pay. Of those furloughed roughly 794 have already applied for unemployment insurance to cover part of their lost wages, while thousands more must continue working and are ineligible. To date, the government shutdown has increased the jobless rate in Massachusetts by .2%. State lawmakers are now exploring ways the state can support these families while the federal government remains shut down.