WASHINGTON – Hundreds of current and former government employees rallied next to the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 12, protesting spending cuts that could cost them their jobs and income.
Unless national lawmakers reach a compromise, a series of major federal spending cuts known as a sequester would go into effect on March 1. The sequester would amount to $85 billion in cuts to services such as defense, education, social security and health care. President Barack Obama warned the sequester would also lead to job losses across the country.
For those who gathered at last week’s rally, their message to Congress was simple: “Jobs, not cuts.”
“We’re here today to tell them stop vilifying working people,” Lee Saunders, the national president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, told the cheering crowd. “We’re the ones who made this nation great.”
Rally participants waved signs reading, “Hands off our medicare,” “Sink the sequester,” and “We’ve sacrificed enough,” among others. As the crowds converged, they also joined together in chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, sequestration’s got to go,” and “Hey corporate slobs, we need jobs.”
Some of the union leaders pledged to meet directly with lawmakers immediately following the rally or in the coming days. For some attendees, such as social security worker Barbara Jackson, there was too much at stake to be silent.
“We are hardworking people,” said Jackson, an Arlington, Va., native. “I’ve worked with social security for a long time and I know that there are people out there who are suffering.”