Menendez, Norcross to speak at furloughed federal workers rally

EGG HARBOR CITY — In response to the month-long federal government shutdown which has furloughed more than 800,000 workers across the nation, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO held a rally Monday.

More than 5,000 federal workers in New Jersey are either on furlough or working without pay during the government shutdown. 

“The only way to make America great is to have people working,” AFL-CIO president Charles Wowkanech said.

Supporters gathered at the Teamsters Local 331 building in Egg Harbor City at 11 a.m. as democratic leaders took to the podium.

U.S. Senator Bob Sen Menendez addressed the crowd and said he believes Trump does not care about the furloughed and out-of-work federal employees.

“I don’t think he understands middle class families can not go with missing a paycheck,” he said.

Menendez pushed for opening the government and said border security could be figured out later.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew, Dist-2 said echoed Mendez's call that the shutdown needs to end.

“I will work with whoever I have to,” he said.

Rep. Donald Norcross also took to the stage and apologized to the federal workers.

“Your government has failed you,” he said.

American Federation of Government Employees president says FAA has experienced the most shut downs of all agencies.

Maureen Smith, who has worked two weeks totaling 160 hours at the FAA Tech Center without pay, talked about the struggles of being an essential employee who is working for no money.

“It’s hard to watch my friends, co-workers go through this,” she said. “There are more people sent home each week”

ACY Air Traffic Controller TJ Woodyard, of EHT, talked about the “mental distractions” of working in a 24/7 federal facility without pay during the shutdown.

He had concerns that employees could “no longer afford to go to work” if the shutdown continues.

Locally, enlistees and civilian employees of the U.S. Coast Guard have been the most effected by the shutdown, having yet to receive a paycheck in 2019. 

Norcross said that there have been 9 votes to open the government.

Bob Challender, president of Local 200, explained that they have started a postcard campaign to Sen Majority Leader McConnell to vote on ending the shutdown.

“Bring it to a vote, even if the President vetoes, just bring it to a vote," Challender said.

This story is currently being updated. Check back for more details.

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Staff Writer

Joined the Press in November 2016. Graduate of Quinnipiac University. Previously worked as a freelance reporter in suburban Philadelphia and news/talk radio producer.

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