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Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 21:25
EL PASO — People across the country rallied on National Day of Action on Wednesday to demand that Congress repeal the sequester.
The local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees, AFGE, gathered near William Beaumont Army Medical Center, WBAMC, to speak out against spending cuts that will impact civilian employees and the level of care at the hospital.
Organizers said between 75 and 90 people showed up at the rally. Many of them are civilian employees who work at WBAMC. Starting in April, those civilian employees will face one furlough day a week for up to 22 days. It adds up to 20-percent of their pay.
Paul Ferris, President of the local chapter of AFGE, is also a civilian employee at WBAMC and said that will have a very serious impact.
"We've got family members that are not going to be able to pay their bills. We have single parents that are not going to be able to feed their children in the same way they're used to feeding the children," said Ferris.
However, the members of the group are not only concerned about their family, they're concerned about patient care.
"The soldier, the civilian emergency that comes in off the street to our emergency room, the family members, the veterans those ore the people that are going to see the most impact," said Jason Windmiller, a member of AFGE and civilian employee at WBAMC.
As health care workers, many of them are concerned that it might not be possible to maintain the level of care at the hospital with less staff. Ferris said the group is working with the command at WBAMC to come up with a plan.
Major Joseph Buccino, Fort Bliss spokesperson, said once the furloughs begin, priority will be given to the emergency room, ambulatory services and surgical procedures.
"Emergency care, lab techs, things like that are protected, or the positions will be filled by soldiers," said Buccino.
Buccino also said members of the military, their family and veterans can expected to see longer lines at the pharmacy and longer wait times to schedule appointments.
If Congress does not repeal the sequestration, furloughs at WBAMC are scheduled to begin April 26.