NASA Space Center employees to protest government shutdown in Houston

NASA Space Center employees to protest government shutdown in Houston
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Union employees at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston are expected on Tuesday to protest the partial government shutdown that has kept them out of work for more than three weeks.

The Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation, a regional member of the AFL-CIO, is organizing government employees to protest at noon outside the gates of the Johnson Space Center, The Houston Chronicle reported.

"Furloughed and unpaid federal employees will rally to protest the continuing shutdown and resulting furloughs that are financially hurting 800,000 federal employees and families," the group said in a news release.

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Most of the 3,055 people who work at NASA’s Houston center as well as 16,700 NASA employees nationwide do not know when they will go back to work. 

The partial government shutdown was triggered on Dec. 22 after a standoff over a spending bill. President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE has requested $5.7 billion in congressional funding to build his long-desired wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats refuse to dedicate money to a border wall.

The Johnson Space Center is home to the nation’s astronaut corps, the Chronicle noted. It is where astronauts are trained for space flight research, International Space Station (ISS) mission operations and the Orion program.

There are roughly 200 federal employees still working at Johnson to ensure the safety of the people onboard the ISS.

Space Center Houston, the official visitor center at Johnson, is owned and operated by a separate nonprofit and is not closed during the shutdown, according to a press release from the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation. 

Labor leader Paul Shearon told Hill.TV earlier this week the number of “highly sought after” NASA employees could be tempted to move to private sector as the shutdown continues.

"For our people, for our engineers, our scientists, some of the best scientists and engineers in the country, their interest is performing their work," Shearon said. "This whole political facade that is being put up is simply encumbering their ability to get their job."

He also warned that the shutdown is making NASA less appealing for young workers.

"If you're a young person coming out of college today, and you've got maybe an advanced degree in engineering or science, and you take a look and you say wait a second, how could it possibly be that NASA scientists are not working, and they're at home not getting paid? That's not what I went to school for," he told Hill.TV’s Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball. "My love of science is far greater than my love for my employer."

"So I think it starts to get a little tricky attracting young workers," he said.