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January 28, 2019

Boston 25 News: Rep. Ayanna Pressley holds roundtable meeting with federal workers

BOSTON – Although the government shutdown has ended with a continued resolution for the next three weeks, those furloughed employees here in Massachusetts are still struggling to get by. 

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley met with many of those federal workers today to let them know about her plans to pass new legislation to make sure folks are protected. That private roundtable addressed dozens of federal government employees still looking for answers after the five-week long shutdown.

After the closed-door meeting, Rep. Pressley explained some of the hardships that furloughed employees brought to her attention today.

“That is demoralizing, it is frightening, and they feel abandoned and betrayed by their government,” Rep. Pressley said. “That was what was most palpable in this room.”

The Congresswoman says she is in the process of pushing forward legislation to protect workers during times like these. 

“Right now, there’s no legislative mechanism to protect food service workers, security workers, custodians, and these are hourly low wage workers who have already been struggling,” Rep. Pressley said.

An American Federation of Government Employees VP and Housing and Urban Development worker, Sajid Shahriar, says he’s heard devastating stories from his own employees: depleting savings, missing payments and defaulting loans. He says many believe the residual effects will be felt for quite some time.

“It’s ended, but for three weeks,” Shahriar said. “If this continues on for the next three weeks, it’s going to get exponentially worse for the folks who work for the federal government, and we can’t have that.”

>>>MORE: Rep. Pressley rips ‘Trump-generated crisis’ on House floor

Shahriar says many folks today are asking for platform for clear, concise information from their agencies, especially when it comes to back pay. Some are even unsatisfied with a career path they once felt safe in.

“Those that were considering going into federal government are less inclined to do so, and those that have recently become federal employees are questioning that choice,” Shahrir said.

As we know, the shutdown has ended with a three-week continued resolution, but many folks are still hoping for answers.