WASHINGTON – Federal employees are planning to hold about 100 rallies across the country on March 20 protesting sequestration, as part of a mass demonstration organized by the American Federation of Government Employees.
The events will take place outside federal agencies and lawmakers’ offices to highlight the valuable work performed by federal employees at military bases, Social Security offices, federal prisons and thousands of other locations.
“Our message is very clear: sequestration has got to go,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “If federal employees are furloughed without pay, if offices and plants are shut down, if vacancies aren’t filled because of these across-the-board budget cuts, then federal employees won’t be able to do the work that the American public expects them to do.”
AFGE is organizing the National Day of Protest with help from the AFL-CIO, including state federations and central labor councils; Americans for Tax Fairness; and the Alliance for Retired Americans. The goal is to demonstrate to lawmakers and citizens that there are real consequences to the massive budget cuts called for under sequestration. In addition to the direct cuts in service delivery, furloughing more than a million workers across the country will have a trickle-down effect on local businesses.
“In many towns and cities, the federal government is one of the largest employers – if not the largest employer – and is a major economic driver,” Cox said. “Sequestration will force more than a million federal workers to take pay cuts of between 20 and 40 percent between now and the end of September. Less money in their pockets means less money to spend locally on food, clothing and other goods and services.”
Sequestration also is just bad economic policy, since it saves little money and actually will cost the government money in lost revenue. Under sequestration, the government will collect less in user fees for things like airplane tickets and visits to national parks, and it won’t be collecting revenue from delinquent taxpayers or healthcare providers cheating Medicare out of billions of dollars.
Instead of slashing spending on federal services and programs that benefit America, AFGE members will highlight the importance of creating jobs and improving the economy by investing in infrastructure and education, raising wages, reducing inequality and increasing economic security for working people. To generate additional tax revenue, Congress should close tax loopholes that benefit Wall Street and the richest 2% of Americans, Cox said.
For a list of cities holding rallies, visit http://local.americawantstowork.org/all.