trump’s govt shut down screws over black workers

December 26, 2018

In case you needed more proof that Trump doesn’t give a damn about the middle class or the working class, he said he would be “proud” to shut down the government if Congress wouldn’t give him $5 billion to build a border wall.

While it can be tempting to think of a government shutdown in vague abstract terms, we should be clear about what it really means: scores of middle class and low-wage workers could be cast into financial uncertainty right before the holidays because of Trump.

According to the Washington Post, about 800,000 of 2.1 million federal workers nationwide — or more than a third — would be affected while almost half will be sent home without pay.

Some federal contractors get their lost wages paid back to them once the government reopens, but for many during the holidays, that wait can be the difference between defaulting on a loan or being able to take care of household expenses.

And what’s worse, low-wage staff don’t get any backpay at all.

During the 2013 shutdown, the federal contractors who were furloughed were eventually paid backpay. But, according to Vox, “the janitors, security guards, and cafeteria servers who work as subcontractors in federal buildings didn’t.”

Seventy-one-year-old Lila Johnson has cleaned government buildings for 21 years. She was asked to use her sick leave in the event of a shutdown. She told the Post that she’s now worried about how she will pay her bills:  “It’s Christmastime,” Johnson said. “People need their money.”

Furloughing federal workers has a big impact of Black economic stability.

Since the Civil Rights Movement, federal jobs have long been seen as a gateway to a stable middle class job with good benefits for Black employees. According to a report from the Center of American Progress, “The competitive pay scales of government employment have lifted generations of Black people into the middle class.”

In 2017, Black employees accounted for 18.15% of the federal workforce.

In case you were curious, Trump and members of Congress still receive pay as usual while the government is shut down. The shutdown could last well into the new year and the poor are still paying for Trump’s mistakes.