Federal employees picket outside Sen. Graham’s office, call for end to shutdown

Federal employees picket outside Sen. Graham’s office, call for end to shutdown

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - As the partial government shutdown enters its 20th day, a group of protesters picketed outside Senator Lindsey Graham’s office demanding it come to an end.

Members of the AFL-CIO and AFGE Local 1915 attended the protest, in addition to several federal employees who have worked for weeks without a paycheck.

“I don’t know when we’re going to get paid,” Tangela Graves, a counselor at a federal prison in Williamsburg, said. “I have bills to pay. It’s very upsetting to not know when we’re getting paid.”

Graves said since the shutdown began, she has continued to work despite not being paid. However, she said she has seen a steady decline in moral among fellow co-workers.

“I stay motivated because I have co-workers I’ve worked for with for 14 years and I don’t want to let them down,” she said. “If I walk off the job, that leaves them hanging. We’re a family at FCI Williamsburg.”

Graves, along with several other protesters spoke with Sen. Graham’s staff members inside his Columbia office ahead of the picket. While Graham is in Washington, Graves has a stern message for both Republicans and Democrats.

“We’re not getting paid and we’re doing our job,” she said. "You’re getting paid and it appears to us you’re not doing your job.”

Elizabeth Jones attended the picket to support federal employees. Though not one herself, she said she’s frustrated with the stalemate taking place in D.C.

“They are not thinking about their constituents. They’re thinking about their political careers rather than the people they were elected to serve,” Jones said.

Talmadge Coleman, a drug treatment specialist at Edgefield Federal Prison in Aiken said he continues to commute from Columbia everyday despite not bringing home any money.

“It’s rough because we have to drive from Columbia to Edgefield twice a day. The inmates kind of tease you and say if you’re not getting paid why are you coming to work? So it’s a hassle.”

Throughout the partial shutdown, TSA workers and air traffic controllers have walked off the job, tired of not being paid. Nearly 800,000 federal employees nationwide are affected by the shutdown, including 3,700 federal employees in South Carolina.

On Thursday night, Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted about a “Complete stalemate right now in Congress,” and said, “I currently do not see a path in Congress, given the recent statements of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the inability to use regular order in the Senate—to fund a wall.”

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