By Liam Woodworth-Cook
On Jan. 25, 2019, the president of the United States signed a bill that would cease the longest government shutdown in the United States. The financial plan, however, will keep the government afloat for only three weeks. After 35 days of shutdown, temporary relief is had for the unpaid government workers. The president had been vetoing bills, holding out for a deal that would grant him the 5.7 million dollars supposedly needed to construct a border wall. So far, the Democrats have held out.
There are, however, talks of a $5.7 million “smart wall” plan to increase surveillance. Democratic House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn suggested the deal to cease the shutdown. With another shutdown looming ahead on February 15th, we’ll see how much traction this smart wall gets. Consisting of increased drones, Border Patrol agents, and other measures, the proposal has faced pushback from immigrants’ rights groups. Fight for the Future stated, “Increasing border surveillance is a nefarious move that widely threatens the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”
While much of the mainstream news is hailing Nancy Pelosi as bringing the shutdown to a ceasefire, much of the momentum came from striking workers. Having missed two paychecks, air-traffic controllers ceased their work, halting flights in LaGuardia, Newark and Hartsfield-Jackson. The head of the flight attendants’ union, who had already encouraged a strike by the private sector workers at airports (flight attendants, pilots), called for an organized strike/walkout, to shut down the shutdown. Hours later, the president signed the deal. While the TSA had a high level of call-outs, organized strikes by federal workers can be high stakes.
During an air traffic controllers’ strike in 1981, Reagan fired 11,000 workers who refused to return to work. This brutally swift action ended the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization — a devastating blow in the labor movement.
Tha 800,000 workers missed two pay periods is a gross and showing tell of a broken system. The nerve of Wilbur Ross, our Secretary of Commerce, shows how far removed the elites are from the working struggle. Ross, a billionaire, stated during a CNBC interview he didn’t understand why furloughed workers were using food banks, and that they could take out loans to pay for their expenses.
Reader, this is our state of affairs. The president defended the remark, with a respin. That workers ought to be able to have an IOU at the grocery store.
Local communities have taken supportive measures for the workers. The needed solidarity of community is a necessary factor in grassroots organizing and anti-capital action. The problem is that we don’t live in a society of IOUs. Hannafords isn’t simply down for the unpaid to come back later. Not only that, but it doesn’t make up for the workers’ unpaid time, even if they do get those back-logged paychecks. There won’t be interest, or less bills, or cheaper groceries. Just more payments. A GoFundMe spokesperson stated they’ve received around 3,000 campaigns linked to the shutdown.
Just before the shutdown ended, another major headline broke: the arrest and indictments of Roger Stone. Stone was an advisor to President Trump and longtime associate, and has been indicted on seven accounts of obstruction of justice, false statements and witness tampering. After a pre-dawn raid, he was released from custody after posting $250,000 bond. His arrest was in connection to the Mueller investigation into Russian ties to Trump’s 2016 election and email hacking. The 66-year-old, well-off white man told reporters that, “To storm my house with greater force than was used to take down bin Laden or El Chapo or Pablo Escobar, to terrorize my wife and my dogs — it’s unconscionable.” Bin Laden and the drug lord Escobar were both shot dead. El Chapo is locked in solitary confinement. Roger Stone’s pretty life got a cold slash of reality. Reality that is still uncertain if he will be convicted. Right now, Roger Stone is unshackled in the comfort of his own home. I hope he shits himself, though.