Robins workers rally over budget impasse

wcrenshaw@macon.comOctober 10, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- More than a dozen federal employees rallied outside the office of U.S. Rep. Austin Scott on Thursday in protest of the budget impasse.

The protesters, mostly members of the Robins Air Force Base union, carried signs with messages that included “Furlough Congress” and “We are people, not pawns.”

David Jones, a full-time union representative, said they weren’t there specifically to target Scott, nor were they blaming any particular party.

“We blame everybody up there,” he said. “The House, the Senate, the president ... they all got their hand in it.”

About 15 protesters were there about noon, and a second rally was planned for later in the afternoon. Jones said two rallies were planned because of the different working shifts.

Many of the signs urged Congress to pass a continuing resolution to cover spending, which it has been doing since 2009 due to the inability to agree on a full year budget. Tom Scott, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 987, said he believed that would be the simplest way to solve the issue for the time being, then Democrats and Republicans could work toward a long-term compromise.

He said more than 4,000 base employees won’t be getting paid until a budget or continuing resolution is passed, even though they still have to show up for work. Scott said the situation is worse than the furloughs this summer because those days were known, where now there is no way to tell how long the stalemate may last.

“If this goes on longer, this will have a dramatic effect on families, businesses and communities,” Scott said.

There were some hopeful signs Thursday as House Republican leaders said a vote may be taken Friday for a temporary increase in the debt ceiling, which could open the door for a compromise on the budget. The news sent stocks soaring.

Parts of the federal government have been shutdown since Oct. 1, which is the beginning of the fiscal year. Republicans’ desires to cut funding for health care reform and curb the ongoing federal deficits have been key sticking points in reaching a compromise.

Union leader Scott said the situation has hurt morale in the Robins workforce.

“Morale is not that good,” he said. “It’s low. People are really questioning the selection of being a federal employee. In the private sector, you have to pay the employees. You can’t get around it.”

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service