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Federal workers to hold rally in Parkersburg

PARKERSBURG — Local federal employees will be holding a rally on Thursday to call for an end to the partial government shutdown.

The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) Chapter 190 will hold a public rally on Thursday from noon-1 p.m. at Bicentennial Park in downtown Parkersburg.

Eric Engle, local NTEU member and event organizer, said their national chapter was going to be holding a rally at the same time at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Engle thought they could do something locally since the local offices of the Bureau of Fiscal Services has a large presence in the area and employs many people.

“We want to call for an end to the shutdown,” Engle said.

A lot of the discussion in Washington concerning the shutdown has centered around whether funding should be provided to a proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico.

Engle said local federal employees are not taking an official stance on the wall, either for or against it. They don’t want federal employees and taxpayers to be used in the struggle to justify one side or the other.

“We are talking about people’s livelihoods here,” Engle said. “I think we can all agree this is not the way to do it with a partial government shutdown.”

NTEU Chapter 190 President Wayne Clements wants people to help get the government open.

“Ask the president to re-open the government and for federal employees to be paid on time (or get back pay at this point) and to receive a pay raise for 2019,” he said.

NTEU Chapter 190 1st Vice President Dianna Hewett said the federal government needs to be open as soon as possible.

“Our representatives are supposed to help their citizens, not hurt them,” she said. “If federal employees are not paid, how can they be expected to provide for their families?”

If some are forced to take other jobs to make ends meet, there are some who may not return, Hewett said.

“Some federal employees will find private jobs since they cannot depend on their paycheck from the government,” she said. “A lot of talent could be lost.”

NTEU Chapter 190 2nd Vice President Hanah Papkov said the shutdown is having an impact on many hard working people.

“It’s not fair to federal employees,” she said. “People have bills to pay, family members that rely on them, etc.

“This adds stress to daily lives.”

There are already around 6,200 federal employees in West Virginia who are being impacted by the shutdown. Engle said there are already some federal workers in the Parkersburg area who have been furloughed and are not working.

He and others are still working. The longer the shutdown lasts, the more likely more local workers will be impacted as money for certain programs and government functions runs out. There are already a number of government contractors around the Parkersburg area who cannot work as a result of the shutdown, Engle said.

A public address system will be available at the rally. Plans are being made for NTEU Chapter 190 leadership to speak at the event. Other members might also speak about how the shutdown is impacting them. There are around 290 members of Chapter 190 NTEU in this area.

Engle said plans are still being worked on for the event.

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