WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - The federal government is back in business after President Trump and House Democrats reached a deal to end the shutdown.
Now, federal workers – some of whom have been working without a paycheck – are looking forward to having an income again.
J. David Cox is the president of American Federation of Government Employees, a union representing more than 700,000 federal and D.C. government employees.
Cox says the end of the shutdown is a victory for unions, but several workers who spoke to FOX 5 say the entire ordeal never should have happened.
"Hostage taking does not work. The American people do not approve of it. They didn't stand for it,” Cox said.
He says the next battle is getting hundreds of thousands of government workers paid for all the time they missed during the shutdown. He says that could happen as early as next week.
"There will be money for folks going into their accounts hopefully by Wednesday, no later than Friday of next week but that's still going to put people five weeks, five weeks without being paid and many of our members have an average take home pay of $500 a week,” Cox said.
Many government employees have been relying on assistance from the community – dining at places like Jose Andres’ pop-up restaurant that offered free meals for furloughed workers.
On Friday night, a lot of them expressed relief.
"I'm grateful that it's over. A whole lot of people have been stressed out,” Marvin Davis said.
Others remained disappointed.
"I'm disgusted. I'm relieved but I'm still not happy…I'm relieved but I wouldn't say I'm happy about this,” said Bing Ye, who works for the Department of Homeland Security.
The shutdown is over, but those with a voice want elected leaders to listen to their message
"No one, no one…be it the president, be it the congress, no one has the right to shut down the federal government and we need to get laws passed that it never ever happens again,” Cox said.
Cox says he’s working with Senators to help pass legislation that will mandate employers pay interest on all back pay owed to furloughed federal employees.