JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Members of the American Federation of Government Employees staged a protest Wednesday in front of Naval Air Station Jacksonville urging citizens to speak out and ask Congress to repeal the sequestration budget cuts that went into effected earlier this month.
The group represents federal workers with NAS Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport.
They say sequestration will result in money taken out of government workers' paychecks. They also say it could affect programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
"This sequestration is really designed to hurt communities," protester Philippe Abrigo said. "It's not just us, the hardworking American people. Instead of taxing those big companies, banks, car companies, those bailout companies, they're taking it out on the federal workers."
"There's 800,000 of us who are being given furlough messages, which accounts to 22 unpaid days in 22 weeks, starting the first week of May," Abrigo added.
Sally Wilson is an analyst for the Department of the Navy. She said that for her, this amounts to a 20-percent pay cut.
"This is money that I use to pay my mortgage, put gas in my car, shop in the local economy," Wilson said. "For some people, if they were planning on purchasing a new appliance or doing some remodeling to help stimulate the local economy, this is going to change all of that."
Protesters say in essence, local businesses will be affected, and worst of all, they say it'll put added stress on families struggling to make it through.
"A lot of families are going to have hardships feeding their children, clothing their children, putting gas in their cars and going back and forth to work," Wilson said. "It's going to impose a huge economic hardship on the whole local community and nationwide as well."
"I hope American people and Congress wake up and listen to the plight of the government workers," Abrigo added.
The protesters say in order to get things done, people need to contact their local senators and representatives to put an end to the sequestration.