Workers, labor supporters demonstrate against furloughs at Watervliet Arsenal

Posted at: 04/04/2013 4:20 PM
Updated at: 04/04/2013 6:11 PM
By: Bill Lambdin

WATERVLIET - Federal workers stood across from the Watervliet Arsenal's South Gate Thursday noon, joined by labor supporters and elected leaders.

The workers face the prospect of one day a week unpaid furloughs.

Basically a 20 per cent pay cut for an announced 14 weeks.

"I have some of my folks right here walking behind me," said Tim Ostrowski, Local 2109 President of the National Federation of Federal Employees. "They've already told me they're going to lose their cars. They're worried about their houses. They're going to be unable to pay their student loans and if you start missing payments, yeah, it hurts now but it could hurt you for seven to ten years after this."

Workers at the arsenal make mortar shells for the Department of Defense and work on private company projects under various labor agreements.

In addition to the loss of pay, leaders argue the furloughs just don't make sense economically, threatening the delicate economic recovery.   

"There are people who are theorizing anywhere from 750-thousand to a million jobs could be lost with the sequestration," said the congressman for the arsenal's district, Rep. Paul Tonko (D - Amsterdam). "That is not what people had asked for. This is just, I think, a pell mell fix. It's just moving forward just to cut in a cutting frenzy rather than being thoughtful."

A national assistant for the NFFE union, Jim Davis called out President Obama and all the members of Congress. "They should be taking a 20% pay cut. These federal employees have," Davis said.