1199ers in New Jersey Speak Out Against Government Shutdown, Urge Congress to Pass Spending Bill
Just one day after the federal government shutdown began on October 1st, thousands across New Jersey were already feeling its devastating effects. From furloughed workers who don’t know when they’ll be receiving their next paycheck to low-income families now unable to apply for emergency benefits, the closure of the federal government is affecting people in real and immediate ways.
On October 2nd, 1199ers partnered with concerned community members to hold an event outside of the Social Security Administration office in Newark, NJ. Participants highlighted the impact that the shutdown is having on working families and urged Tea Party members in Congress to end their blockage of a federal spending bill that’s needed to keep vital services in operation.
“It’s sad that Tea Party Republicans don’t seem to care about the innocent people who are being hurt and can’t get the benefits they need,” said Gracie Parham, an 1199SEIU member who works as a certified nursing assistant at Windsor Garden Care & Rehabilitation Center in East Orange. “We the people are not going to stand for this, and we will fight to make sure that our representatives in Congress do the right thing!”
Throughout the day, Newark residents were stopping by the Social Security Administration office hoping to complete important tasks, but were stunned to find the building closed.
Among those turned away were:
· Charlotte, who has a heart condition and cannot to go back to work until December, couldn’t apply for temporary disability benefits.
· Patricia, whose son is disabled, was unable to get the paperwork necessary for applying for welfare benefits for her and her child.
· Chanelle, a security officer and mother of two girls, aged 2 and 5, was unable to get the documents she needs to apply for food assistance for her daughters
· Georgia couldn’t get the proof of income that she needs in order to apply for supplemental nutrition assistance for her family.
· Fred, a 75 year old retiree, couldn’t get the information he was seeking about applying for Medicaid.
· Kim, an unemployed mother of four who was recently offered a job at the airport, couldn’t get the paperwork she needs by Friday for a background check so she can start work.
Milly Silva, 1199SEIU Executive Vice President who is running for Lt. Governor alongside gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono, spoke to the crowd about the broad impact that the shutdown is having on communities across the nation. “So many of the rights and privileges that we as Americans take for granted exist because of the dedication of our federal employees,” she said. “Without them on the job, vital services come to a grinding halt and all Americans suffer—from veterans awaiting disability benefits to low-income mothers in need of nutrition assistance for their children.”
Silva also stressed that the Tea Party’s attempt to derail the Affordable Care Act by forcing a government shutdown cannot be allowed to succeed. “Millions of Americans are already benefiting for the reforms of the Affordable Care Act. We are not going back to a time when people could be denied coverage due to preexisting conditions or when insurance companies could spend all they want on executive salaries and bonuses instead of delivering medical care.”
“The caregivers of 1199SEIU are ready to stand with the families in New Jersey and across the nation who are being victimized by this government shutdown, and I’m confident that together we’ll win justice for those who are being affected and bring sanity back to our political process,” Silva said.