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Federal workers in Chesterfield protest furloughs

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) -- Federal workers rallied against looming furloughs Wednesday morning in front of the Bellwood Defense General Supply Center along Jefferson Davis Highway.

The American Federation of Government Employees said the protest, which involved over 100 union workers standing in a line for over three hours, showed lawmakers and citizens just how many workers will be impacted by sequestration-mandated budget cuts.

“If federal employees are furloughed without pay, if offices and plants are shut down... then federal employees won’t be able to do the work that the American public expects them to do,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said in a news release.

Ladeva Dabney, who has worked for five years at the Defense Supply Center, said she is frustrated by lawmakers' lack of progress and worries she would not get by without her job.

"I think it's unfair," Dabney said. "If I've got to lose 22 days, is Congress losing 22 days?"

Twenty-five year Defense Supply Center veteran Joe Schetz said a 20 percent pay cut is not fair since "the people that are making the decision aren't taking a cut in pay."

Protestors also sounded the alarm that the cuts would likely affect nearby businesses.

Lucy Lewis said many mom and pop stores, as well as restaurants, would suffer because cash-strapped workers would be without discretionary income. She worries the big cuts  could trigger another recession in the U.S.

"We can't support the grocery stores, we can't support the movie theaters," said Union Steward Sonora Brown. "What does that do the local economy?"

Of the 2,300 workers at the Defense Supply Center, about 1,200 represented by the union used their lunch break to take part in the demonstration.

"Each federal employee has been allotted 30 minutes... We can come out and participate in this event without having to deal with our annual leave or leave without pay," Melvin Jackson, a Defense Supply Center worker, said.

The Chesterfield County protest was one of around 100 rallies that took place across the country Wednesday.


Photos from Wayne Covil.