Local rallies to call for end to sequestration - Tucson News Now

Local rallies to call for end to sequestration

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

It was a small rally. Quiet as rallies go.

A couple dozen union workers stood on the sidewalk outside the gates of Davis Monthan Air Base holding small signs calling for an end to the sequestration, the $85 billion in automatic federal budget cuts.

"We're political footballs between to warring parties," says Joe Diggs, an officer in the federal employees union. "That's the only way you can put it."

Because Washington failed to act, the budget cuts became automatic and indiscriminate.

Every agency and department will see cuts.

Federal workers will see pay cuts of 20%, one furlough day a week.

"We have the VA, we have border patrol, we have ICE, bureau of prisons," Diggs says naming off a few of the most prominent agencies to be cut.

Where those cuts fall will be determined as time passes.

"Eric Williams was murdered February 25th. He was stabbed to death by an inmate< says Susan Mastin, a federal employees union official pointing to one of three pictures she brought to the rally.

Each picture is a smiling man, somewhere in his 30's "with a wife and children," she says.

They died at a federal corrections institution in the past few weeks, one shot to death execution style.

She brought the pictures to try to put a face to the dangers inside the prisons.

"We have a shortage in all of our departments and now with sequestration and furloughs coming, it's going to make our job more dangerous," she says.

Some in Washington have passed them off as scare tactics to try to garner public sympathy.

Others argue you can't cut $85 billion indiscriminately and not have consequences.

It's just another example of how political sequestration is.

But it's the workers who will be facing the brunt of the early cutbacks.

"Border Patrol is getting hammered," Diggs says.

By some estimates with a loss of overtime and the furloughs, cuts could be as high as 40%.

The workers who came to the protest did so on their lunch hour so as not to rile the public any more than it already is about government workers.

"When they think of sequester and government workers, they think of people who just push pencils and paper around the desk," Diggs says. "but we have a lot of people who do very dangerous and rough jobs and they're going to be put in harms way."

March 20 was chosen as a "Day of Action to Repeal the Sequester" by the AFL/CIO.;

The one in Tucson was organized by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).  They are the largest federal employee union representing 650,000 federal and D.C. government workers nationwide and overseas.

Repeal Sequestration Rally:

What:       Tell Congress to repeal sequestration

When:       Wednesday, March 20 at 11:30 am

Where:     In front of Davis Monthan AFB at the SW Corner of Golf Links and Craycroft, Tucson

Another Rally Thursday is being coordinated by "Organizing for Action", a nonprofit organization established to support President Obama with administration goals.

When:       Thursday, March 21 at 12:30 pm

Where:     Tucson City Hall, 255 West Alameda Street, Tucson, AZ, 85701

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