CR won't stop AFGE shutdown lawsuit

Monday - 4/11/2011, 8:08am EDT

John Gage, president, American Federation of Government Employees

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

Even though a shutdown has averted for now, the American Federation of Government Employees is pressing ahead with a lawsuit that would prevent requiring federal employees to work during a shutdown.

AFGE president John Gage told Federal News Radio the union wants to ensure that the administration won't be able to use "shutdown" as a strategy ever again.

"What we're trying to do with this lawsuit is to just stop this blackmail of the American public and especially federal employees with these sham shutdown threats," said Gage.

He argued that most of federal agencies weren't planning to shut down at all, and that employees of those agencies cannot be ordered to work without pay.

According to the suit, said Gage, the federal government cannot incur a debt without an appropriation. The debt in this case is the due payment to military families or the federal employee. Even a partial shutdown would mean having to appropriate the funds to pay those employees deemed essential, as well as military pay, said Gage.

"We would really like to have our lawsuit take this threat of shutdowns off the table by making it all or nothing," he explained. "If the whole government was shutdown, this country would come to a stop."

Then, said Gage, "if the blowhards talking about government shut down realize....that they will have to sustain a whole government shutdown, then we think using this as a tactic will be off the table."

At the bottom of the lawsuit, he argued, "this theater and using federal employees as its political pawn just has to stop."

Gage said the union is determined to go forward with the suit because "this is only the opening salvo." Calling the 2012 budget "a highway to hell," he said federal employees weren't the cause of the deficit and they shouldn't be the cure.

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