Furloughed workers say they're fed up with shutdown at Twin Cities rallies

Image 1 of 2

Federal employees rallied in the Twin Cities Thursday to demand an end to the partial government shutdown in its 20th day.

According to the workers at rallies in Minneapolis and St. Paul, they are fed up with the shutdown as they are forced to dip into their savings just to get by.

Even with a wind chill in the single digits, the harshest reality for these furloughed workers is the fact that they are not getting paid.

“Morale, it’s down,” said Judi Berggren, an IRS employee. “You just worry every day when are we going to get back?”

“Don’t use us as a pawn,” said Tim Ronholm, of the Treasury Employees Union. “We were never meant to be a pawn in this thing.

U.S. Treasury workers in St. Paul rallied to end the shutdown that not only hurts them, but affects people needing tax forms to get a mortgage or a student loan.

“You know, I’ve got people who’ve filed amended returns and they’re expecting a check and it’s not being processed,” said Andrew Johnson, an IRS Auditor.

There’s the professional impact and then the personal one, too.

In the Treasury Employees Union in St. Paul, signs suggest expectations that the shutdown may not end soon.

Duane Pulfort and Debra Carlson say the reality is about to hit since they’ve been able to pay bills until now.

“So far, but I’m looking at maybe I should apply for unemployment to help get me through,” Pulfort said. “I applied yesterday. Yeah, I’m looking Monday.”

For Carlson, the shutdown is horrible timing as she is in the midst of a divorce.

“It’s twice as much to deal with,” she said. “Try to be emotionally stable and strong and put one foot in front of the other and keep going.”

In Minneapolis, the American Federation of Government Employees also rallied for workers caught in the middle of the shutdown.

Protesters gathered near the VA Medical Center, holding signs, chanting and getting lots of honks of support from drivers.

While Veterans affairs and the Department of Defense employees are funded through the end of the fiscal year, many in that group rallied Thursday to show solidarity.  

“Certainly, we are all federal employees, so harm to one is harm to all and we want to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are out protecting us without pay,” said Gregg James, AFGE 8th District Vice President.

The Minneapolis rally also featured two TSA workers who will not be receiving a paycheck for the first time Friday.