Federal employees protest shutdown, future cuts

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St. Louis – Local members of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 3354 and their allies protested the loss to the St. Louis area economy from the government shutdown on the grounds of the Gateway Arch Oct. 16. In addition to locking federal workers out of their jobs, the shutdown shuttered the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which includes the Arch and the Old Courthouse. The 16-day shutdown, driven by Tea Party Republicans bent on defunding the Affordable Care Act and making cuts to other programs to reduce the federal deficit, ended Oct. 16 when Congress passed last-minute legislation to fund the government until Jan. 15 and give Treasury the ability to borrow above the $16.7 trillion debt limit until Feb. 7. That leaves open the possibility of another shutdown, if Congress can’t agree on a workable budget. Local 3354 President Steven Hollis said federal workers have already given enough. “Federal workers have already sacrificed over $103 billion in the name of deficit reduction,” Hollis said. “The problem is not the deficit, the problem is jobs. What they’re doing when they cut federal workers’ jobs and pay is hurting the economy.”

– Labor Tribune photo

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