NSA Crane's civilian workers to protest budget cuts, furloughs
Herald-Times, Bloomington, Ind.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — In her 29 years at Naval Support Activity Crane, Mary Crow has never seen an organized worker protest.
That all changes on Friday, when Crow, secretary and treasurer of Crane’s American Federation of Government Employees Local 1415, will lead Crane workers to protest a three-year pay freeze and pending 22-day work furlough resulting from automatic federal budget cuts.
The effects of what is called sequestration will come home next month to 3,000 or so “everyday workers,” civilians who will feel the pinch of a national budget crisis combined with the downsizing of the U.S. military. Crane expects $36 million will be slashed from its funding.
From 11 a.m. until noon Friday, members of AFGE Local 1415 will be demonstrating against the sequestration budget cuts, the furloughs they will cause and the long-term salary freeze. The protest will take place on private property outside the Lonely Night Saloon, near Crane’s main gated entrance off Ind. 231.
The union represents about 1,500 at Crane, “the working class, the nonsupervisors and nonprofessionals,” said Crow, a program analyst. But she pointed out the furloughs will affect even managers, who also will see their work week shortened and their paychecks shortchanged.
She said union officials are working with Crane brass to develop what’s called a memorandum of agreement that will outline how the furloughs will be implemented. “We don’t have details, but we have an idea of what will happen. We will have to take 22 days off, and that’s 20 percent of our pay.”
She said her husband has a job that pays well, so she’s not too worried about how the cuts will affect her. But many of her coworkers are in households where there is just one income, often because of layoffs and factory closings.
Crow said income cuts at Crane will result in less money spent at stores, restaurants and other businesses in the rural world around the base. “When we get our pay cut 20 percent, we won’t be going out to dinner, buying gas, going to the high school ball games, going to beauty salons and manicurists,” she said. “We will not be able to afford those kinds of luxuries.”
She said Crane workers are upset, even angry, listening to media accounts reporting that the sequestration cuts won’t be too detrimental to the nation and the economy. She said Crane employees, who further the security of the nation, feel slighted by the cuts.
“We have never been furloughed, in all my years of being here,” Crow said. “I think government workers are feeling abandoned, like we’re the scapegoat. People come to work, do a good job, work a lot of long hours during the wars, and they feel hurt, after all the things they have done for this country and to have people act like it’s nothing.”
She said civilian military employees have gone three years without a raise, saving the federal government billions of dollars. “Most defense workers are well trained and dedicated, here to support the military,” she said. “They are upset about this.”
Crow hopes Crane workers will come out over their lunch break, or take an hour of vacation time, to participate in the protest. “I have been a union shop steward for 25 years, and this has never happened before,” she said. “But sometimes you have to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ ”
She wants to get the community’s attention.
“I hope it helps us, and brings awareness to people who have not realized the trickle-down effect this is going to have,” Crow said.