In more than 100 events across the country Wednesday, working families rallied outside lawmakers’ offices, federal agencies, military bases and elsewhere to shine a spotlight on the impact of the sequester’s across-the-board cuts that will cost more than 750,000 jobs this year alone and to call for its repeal.
While most of the actions aimed at members of Congress were focused on Republicans who are using the sequester as leverage to get their way in Congress, in Beckley, W.Va., a group of more than 50 AFGE and other union members and community supporters received a shout out of support from Rep. Nick Rahall (D).
Rahall, who couldn’t attend the event, sent a statement condemning “this cockamamy sequestration process” that one of his staffers read to the crowd on the federal courthouse steps.
It is not fair and it is not right, that waste in the federal budget, in the guise of tax breaks and loopholes for millionaires and and multinational corporations, continues unabated, while massive layoffs and furloughs are forced upon federal employees and threaten critical services that would disrupt and harm the economy.
Republicans are using the sequester as a hammer to try and force cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare benefits and gut essential services working people depend on, while protecting tax breaks for Wall Street and the richest 2%.
Meanwhile in Colorado Springs, Colo., several dozen working people marched outside Rep. Doug Lamborn’s (R) office, chanting “repeal sequestration.”
Colorado AFL-CIO Vice President Chuck Bader told reporters:
It's not just going to hurt 27,000 people (federal workers) right here in El Paso County, but it's going to hurt small business owners, it's going to hurt our economy by dragging down the amount of money these well-paid workers can spend right here in El Paso County.
In Lakewood, Wash., outside the gates of McChord Air Field, workers talked about how the upcoming furloughs of federal workers—the equivalent of a 20% or better pay cut—not only hurts federal employees, but impacts vital services, too.
Dan Grey, a social worker at Madigan Army Medical Center, told the Tacoma News Tribune:
I’ll work 32 hours a week instead of 40. We’re seeing the military coming back from war, and they deserve full treatment. Thirty-two hours instead of 40 means longer waits. It’s more about what it’s going to do to the service members. It’s the work that needs to be done, and that’s what I want our government to do.
At the Naval Station Norfolk (Va.)—the world’s largest naval base—union shipbuilders from AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department unions, AFGE members and others warned of the sequester’s impact on workers, the nation’s defense and local economy (see video below). Said Metal Trades President Ron Ault:
People think there are savings involved in this, and there are not. It's an added cost. Plus the fact that it leaves us very vulnerable at a very dangerous time.