About 800,000 workers found themselves thrust into economic uncertainty at the end of 2018, when politicians in Washington couldn’t come to an agreement on funding legislation to keep the federal government running.
Some people kept working, while others were furloughed. All of them, however, wouldn’t get paid until the government reopened. The partial government shutdown ended up lasting 35 days, the longest closure in history and the second one during Donald Trump’s presidency.
At every level of government, public workers increasingly find themselves at the mercy of politicians using them as political footballs. In many places, they face threats to their pay and benefits, and a crackdown on efforts to unionize, even as they’re expected to keep the country’s infrastructure running so that everyone else — including massive corporations rewarded with tax cuts and other handouts — can succeed.
In other spots, however, there seems to be a growing willingness by politicians to embrace unions and the role of government. In June, the governor of Nevada signed a law giving state workers collective bargaining rights, the largest statewide expansion in 16 years. And the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are openly showing their support for unions and backing worker actions.
On Aug. 3, just days after the second round of debates, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) will host the 2020 Public Service Forum in Las Vegas.
At least 15 Democrats running for their party’s 2020 nomination will be attending, including Sen. Cory Booker, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Rep. John Delaney, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Kamala Harris, Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Seth Moulton, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Rep. Tim Ryan, Sen. Bernie Sanders, business leader and philanthropist Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and author Marianne Williamson.
Amanda Terkel, the Washington Bureau Chief of Huffington Post, and I will be pressing the candidates on their plans to strengthen protections for working people and the position that unions occupy. We also want to hear specifics from candidates on how they intend to get their ambitious agendas through what could be a divided Congress, and their views on the role of government in people’s lives.
The candidates will also take questions directly from AFSCME members in attendance and watching the livestream, which will be running on HuffPost.
This blog post has been cross-posted at Huffington Post.