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Federal Employees News Digest : April 1, 2013
Phil Piemonte, Managing Editor E-mail: email@example.com What's Inside44 April 1, 2013 • Vol. 62, No. 35 Union protests---and prepares for furloughs In the wake of Congress's failure to ease the weight of sequestration on already hard- pressed federal employees, some unions are taking action to draw attention to the finan- cial burdens the broad, indiscriminate cuts are causing for members and their com- munities alike. One such activity will soon be visiting the Troy, N.Y., area, where in the adja- cent town of Watervliet approximately 950 workers at the Watervliet Arsenal will soon be affected by hundreds of scheduled fur- loughs as a result of the sequester. The facil- ity produces large-caliber items for tanks, howitzers and mortars. "We're going to be taking off every Friday--- unpaid---from April to the end of the fiscal year," Tim Ostrowski, a National Federation of Federal Employees vice president and president of NFFE local 2109, told FEND. "All these coffee shops and restaurants, where people are buying their coffee and newspaper and then their subs for lunch, they're not going to be doing this business anymore--- even earlier in the week." "Nobody in the area seems to understand this, or care about this---in the local newspapers and TV stations, so far," Ostrowski told FEND. "Without them covering our protests, all we'll succeed in doing is slowing traffic." Ostrowski said that he and other employees are actually confused at how the impact seques- tration has on such a large local employer---and other federal employers across the country---so far has produced so little reaction. Ostrowski attributes some of the lax atti- tude to history. "We've never been affected by a furlough," he said. "We don't get any- thing from Congress, normally, not directly. The plant pays its own way. So, we have people still saying, it's not going to hap- pen, it's not going to happen. But---hey---it's going to happen." The surrounding community's economy depends heavily on spending by the arsenal workers. With the coming 20 percent cut lasting half a year at least, many will be hard-pressed to pay for the bare necessities---utilities might get paid, but local retailers won't. "Twenty percent is a lot for my folks," Ostrowski said. "It's a lot to lose. Many are low- grade, you know, wage-grade employees on the federal scale---machinists and so on." 'Informational' protests planned Beginning April 4, Ostrowski said, his union will hold informational picketing events, initial- ly during lunchtime, and participants will carry signs protesting the sequester and furloughs. Of the more than 950 workers at the plant, more than 200 are NFFE members. Ostrowsi and other union members hope to gain the attention of the nearby Albany, N.Y., newspaper and three major TV news opera- tions. The union is inviting the local congress- man, Rep. Paul Tonko (D), to pay a visit. No alternative to ending sequester There is little in the way of alternative work to fill in the 20 percent gap, Ostrowski told FEND. He also laments that his union has no major emergency fund to help member employees deal with the current situation. "We did not create this situation---and all our folks just want to get back to work and do their mission," Ostrowski told FEND. When feds stop spending During the gov- ernment shut- down of 1995-96, critics of big govern- ment said it made for a nice change. Most federal workers were furloughed. That included career civil servants detailed to the White House. They were replaced by interns, which produced some inter- esting results. For the most part, few people outside of government noticed the mid-winter lag in services. Congress voted to pay the furloughed feds, so for most it turned out to be an unexpected, but welcome mid-winter mini-vacation. But that was then, this is now. For one thing, that happened before the 9/11 attacks, which changed every- thing. Those attacks led to two wars (with Syria, Iran and Mali now waiting in the wings) and a complete overhaul of U.S. security---from airports and nuke plants to our ports and borders. Traveling, especially by air, has become a mini-nightmare at many already busy airports. Security checks stress both the government workers INSIGHT BY MIKE CAUSEY continued on page 2 For more news...see Federal Daily at www.FederalDaily.com • Shutdown Averted 3 • Fiscal 2014 budget passes 3 • In Brief 4 • Rulings Roundup 5 • Informed Investor 7 • Federal Benefits Q&A 8 continued on page 3
March 25, 2013
April 8, 2013