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Federal Union Members Picket Furlough At West Point

WAMC/Allison Dunne

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Tuesday announced a plan to furlough some 750,000 Department of Defense civilian employees because of across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration. In the Hudson Valley, more than a dozen civilian employees at West Point picketed today, saying the impending furlough is already hurting local families and businesses.

The furlough is intended to save the Defense Department $1.8 billion and run for 11 days, which amounts to one day per week beginning July 8 through September. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point in Orange County has some 1,800 federal employees, 1,300 of whom are represented by the American Federation of Government Employees Local 2367. All would be furloughed.

Marvin Kent is part of the custodial staff at West Point, and stood with fellow AFGE workers on the informational picket line.

The New Windsor resident says he gets paid every two weeks, and the hit will look like this.

And here’s Bill McCabe, treasurer for AFGE Local 2367. He works at a central power plant at West Point that provides steam and air conditioning for the barracks and some of the housing.

He says the local economy is already feeling the pinch.

Some of that scrimping and saving means skipping lunch at Highland Falls Market, which has a deli.  Annette Lewis works there and says she has noticed the impact.

And it’s not only fewer customers.

Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, whose district includes West Point, has sent a bipartisan letter to Defense Secretary Hagel denouncing the furlough plan, urging the Secretary to reconsider.

The 11 days are down from an initial discussion of 22 days. The furlough plan also affects the New York Air National Guard’s 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base, also in Orange County, hitting about 400 employees. Furlough notices are scheduled to start going out May 28.

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