Federal employees call for end to shutdown

By  | 

SALEM, Va. (WDBJ7) Drivers sounded their support, as they passed the picketers outside the Salem VA Medical Center, Thursday afternoon.

The protest was organized by the American Federation of Government Employees, the union that represents about 2000 VA employees in Salem.

They are still being paid, but the group that carried signs on Thursday also included employees of the Transportation Security Administration and the National Park Service who don't expect to receive their paychecks on Friday.

Local 1739 President Anita Campbell said their message was simple.

"We don't want the federal employees to be without a paycheck," Campbell told WDBJ7. "They're doing their job, and they need to be paid."

The protest coincided with President Trump's visit to McAllen, Texas, where he met with border agents and local officials. He made the case for the border wall, and blamed Democrats for the political stand-off.

"The government's shut down," Trump said, "because the Democrats will not fund the border security, plain and simple."

Back in Salem, union members argued that federal employees are paying the price.

"You know it's not just losing the paycheck," said Daniel Hines. "It's when you're behind on your bills, your credit rating, your interest you're accumulating if you have to take out loans. All of these things are costing federal employees money. They're not going to get that back."

Two employees of the TSA who spoke with us off camera said they like their jobs, and appreciate the support they've received from travelers passing through the TSA checkpoints.

But they also said it has been very stressful not knowing when they might receive their next paycheck.