Millions Could Be Lost From West Michigan Economy Due To Sequester Cuts

Posted at 7:27 PM, Mar 20, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-20 19:27:42-04

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — At least 50 government employees gathered around the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in Battle Creek Wednesday to protest the sequestration cuts scheduled to take effect in late April.

The effort was part of a nationwide protest taking place in different cities across the country.

Workers say they are angry that lawmakers are preparing to go on their spring break that begins Friday with no budget agreement yet in sight.

President of AFGE Local 1626, Robin Nichols said there is a lot at stake for local economies and the West Michigan economy.

If congress doesn’t come up with a budget, mandatory furloughs are scheduled to kick in for 800,000 government employees across the country and 2,500 in Battle Creek alone.

Nichols says the Battle Creek area employees would be forced to take 22 unpaid days off from April, 26, through September.

They would lose 20 percent or more of their pay.

Program Analyst at the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center, Susan Buckley said it’s going to hurt families financially.

“There will be a lot less discretionary income in this community so there`s going to be a huge spillover effect,” said Buckley.

Calculating an average rate of pay of $25 per hour, employees stand to lose more than $4,000 over five months.

If that number is multiplied by the 2,500 employees in the Battle Creek area, than West Michigan stands to lose around $10 million from the local economy in that area alone.

Buckley says the military overseas is also at risk.

She said if 800,000 employees take furloughs nationwide, those fighting for our country will have fewer people available to help.

“We enforce contracts and a lot of those contracts support people in the military overseas. Our military bases are just going to have to figure it out,” said Buckley.

The American Federation of Government Employees Organized the protest in Battle Creek Wednesday.