LISTEN: The looming government shutdown means millions of federal employees could lose their paychecks. GPB’s Amanda Andrews reports union members are demanding action.


The American Federation of Government Employees advocates for fair wages and job safety for federal workers across the country in jobs such as correctional officers, TSA agents, law enforcement officers, park rangers and many in the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security.

In Georgia, AFGE's membership also includes over 9,000 members in local 987 in Warner Robins, home to Robins Air Force Base.

The looming government shutdown means millions of federal employees could lose their paychecks unless Congress passes a budget, but even if that happens, many will still have to go to work. The AFGE has recently called for members to email and call their representatives to demand they pass funding and stop the shutdown.

AFGE Y.O.U.N.G District 5 representative Brandon Respress works at Robbins AFB. He said the issues goes beyond a specific political party.

“As a union we actually vet candidates that support the labor movement regardless of who they affiliated with,” Respress said. “I think we as an American people, as a whole, need to do a whole lot more of that when we’re going to the polls to try to avoid this kind of situation.”

Employees at Robbins AFB working for the Department of Defense are considered essential and will have to continue working without pay during the shutdown. Respress said there is a lot of uncertainty in how the negotiations will handle the lost wages.

“If we do some to an agreement or when we come to an agreement, we’re not even able to tell you if we’re going to pay you back pay,” he said. “That has to be negotiated and that’s not even a guarantee there.“

Respress said the union is working proactively to gather resources from Georgia and Alabama for federal employees in the South who may be affected by the shutdown and need gas or food.

During the last shutdown in 2019, which lasted 34 days, some government employees were forced to seek assistance at food banks and shelters.

On Tuesday in Atlanta, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke about a possible government shutdown.