FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Rev. Jackson Rallies with Federal Workers and Demands Jobs Not Walls
CHICAGO – In the bitter cold and biting wind of January in Chicago, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and dozens of federal workers held a spirited rally here Thursday afternoon, demanding an immediate end to President Trump’s 20-day – and counting – shutdown of the federal government.
Rev. Jackson fired up the crowd as he led the workers in a chant that echoed through Federal Plaza in the Loop, where government workers and their state and local union supporters rallied, carrying signs reading “Americans Want Jobs Not Shutdowns” and “Jobs Not Furloughs.”
“Jobs, not walls,” Rev. Jackson chanted.
“JOBS, NOT WALLS,” the workers responded.
Similar rallies were held across the country on Thursday as some 800,000 federal workers will not be paid Friday. No one knows how many more payless paydays will follow as President Trump digs in his heels, insisting on a border wall that, according to public opinion polls, most Americans do not want or need.
The rallies were organized by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). Matt Muchowski, district office manager of the American Federation of Government Employees, District 7 in Chicago, read a statement from Dorothy James, a union vice president.
Federal workers, James said, “should not be held hostage to a border wall” or “have to beg and borrow to pay their bills.” The public, she said, “should not have to worry whether they will receive government services” such as prison guards, food programs, “securing our borders, providing housing for the poor and having screeners show up to work to clear passengers to safely fly our skies, among many other essential duties that they perform.”
“Do not punish federal employees. Do not punish the public. Fund the government and fight about the wall later.”
If the government is not reopened by Saturday, the Trump shutdown will be the longest in the nation’s history. Until then, the longest government shutdown lasted 21 days in 1995 when Republicans closed the government after President Clinton refused to approve cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
In 2013, during the Obama administration, Republicans shut down the government for 16 days to starve the Affordable Care Act of funding.
“Workers,” Rev. Jackson said, “should not be used as sacrificial lambs and pawns.”
As in previous shutdowns, “essential” federal employees such as members of the Secret Service, border patrol agents and airport security employees are expected to continue to report to work – without pay.
“Forced to work without wages is slavery,” Rev. Jackson said, adding, “We must march in great numbers all over America,” until the federal government is reopened.
Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization that was formed in December 1996 by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. through merging of two organizations he founded Operation PUSH People United to Serve Humanity (estab. 1971) and the Rainbow Coalition (estab. 1984). With headquarters in Chicago and offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Oakland, the organization works to make the American Dream a reality for all citizens while advocating for peace and justice around the world. RPC is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless. Its mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justice around the world.