Employee unions march on Capitol Hill

Earlier this week, several hundred federal employees from the American Federation of Government Employees and the American Federal of State, County and Municipal Employees marched on Capitol Hill protesting potential furloughs and budget cuts to their agencies.

With the budget-busting sequestration scheduled to take effect in less than three weeks, the AFGE and AFSCME planned the march as part of their week-long campaign to stop sequestration and educate members of Congress about the value of federal employees.

J. David Cox, the national president of AFGE, said the two unions were set to meet with every member of Congress this week to discuss sequestration and explain in more detail its potential impact.

“We are letting them know that we will remember this. And also, we will take that message back home,” Cox said. “We are guarding this country and protecting it against the most dangerous criminals in the world. You want us not to be there? We are guarding the borders. Somebody right now is processing social security claims for our senior citizens and for children in need. Those things are happening and we will not be there doing that. Those things are all affected by the sequestration.”

Cox and others believe the message is starting to sink in with many lawmakers. He said the other issue in helping Congress understand the problems that sequestration would bring is explaining its broader economic impact. AFGE economists estimate the cuts to federal spending would cost 1.5 million jobs beyond the impact on federal employees. Cox said he hopes that will help influence Congress to act more quickly.

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