Jen Steele -
DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO — Officials of a federal employees union on Thursday said their members shouldn’t have to continue to bear the sacrifice of unpaid days off, as the United States looks ahead to a possible second year of across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration.
At a San Diego news conference, an American Federation of Government Employees official pointed to three years of frozen salaries on top of the six unpaid days off that most federal workers are taking this fiscal year.
“Federal employees are not the reason we have that deficit, and I’ll be damned if we’re going to continue to pay that down,” said George McCubbin, a national union vice president. “It’s not our responsibility. … We have done our fair share.”
U.S. Reps. Susan Davis and Scott Peters, both San Diego Democrats, stood with the union to say that furlough days unnecessarily hurt at least 650,000 government workers this year.
Peters said Congress can’t allow sequestration to become the new normal.
“We need to appoint negotiators to negotiate a compromise between the House budget and Senate budget so we can all come together and have a mission-based approach,” Peters said. “What we can’t do is continue on this path of sequestration.”
Asked what will be different this year, after the prior term’s deadlock, Davis said budget pain felt in the halls of government this year should have created determination to get back to the negotiating table.
“Right now, a lot of people are hurting as a result of it; our economies are hurting. I think that in some cases, until you take some action some people don’t think that it’s real,” she said.
Peters said other “freshmen,” the newest 85 members of Congress, would like to do something different from last year.
In order to avoid another round of automatic cuts, Congress would have to come up with an alternate spending plan. Sequestration would cut $109 billion from the 2014 federal budget, equally split between defense and nondefense spending.
The current federal budget expires at the end of September.
The American Federation of Government Employees is holding rallies in cities across the United States while members of Congress are home for the summer.
San Diego is home to at least 24,000 civilian federal workers in the Defense Department alone.