Union members gather for shutdown protest at U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON – More than 100 members of various labor unions, many of them furloughed federal workers, gathered outside the east end of the Capitol building Friday afternoon to protest the government shutdown.

Their message to Congress echoed in harmony through their continuous chant: “We want to work, we want to work.”

“Let our people get back to work, and stop holding us as hostages,” says Janet Coyle, who represented the American Federation of Government Employees.

Alexis Vasquez, 18, attended the rally because he wants to see justice for federal workers.

“I want them to take us into consideration, and to see how we’re suffering,” he says.

Vasquez lives with his father and sister. After high school graduation he took a job in the McDonalds at the National Air and Space Museum, he says, to save for his college education and to help his unemployed father with the bills.

“So, I can’t help him pay bills any longer because of this situation,” Vasquez says.

Marcelo Del Canto has found himself in a similar situation. He and his wife are furloughed, and they’ve had to scale back on expenses, most notably day care for their 4-year-old son.

“He’s at home now wondering why he’s home. We’ve had to tell him mommy and daddy are not working right now, so it’s not a fun place to be right now,” says Del Canto, who works for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Jackie Nantier works in the executive branch, though she wouldn’t say in what capacity. She puts a lot of the blame for the shutdown on Republicans, but she says both Republicans and Democrats are to blame for suffering families have to endure.

“I want them to respect our service to the country, because these are patriots here,” Nantier says. “We work for the federal government because we are patriots, but we also have families to support.”

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