WASHINGTON -- The union representing hundreds of thousands of federal government employees is urging public sector workers to contact their members of Congress and lobby against the House GOP budget bill that would cut $61 billion in spending for the remainder of the current fiscal year.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), whose members also include government workers in the District of Columbia and some private sector employees, launched a new radio ad on Tuesday that encourages workers to humanize the cuts.
"The wrecking ball is hitting right now," goes the text of the ad. "Vital federal, state, and local services that working Americans depend upon every day are being smashed. As public employees, we know – first hand – the damage these crushing attacks will have on so many Americans."
It goes on to name effects of the cuts, including less support for U.S. troops; closing Social Security offices; shutting down food, air, water and coal mines; and less nursing care for veterans.
"Public employees need to set the record straight," the ad continues. "No one is telling the real story. And no one knows it better than public employees. Call -- then visit -- your Congressman and Senators. Tell them who you are and what you do. Just tell them the truth. It’s about time somebody did."
The ad will be running on nearly 100 radio stations in two dozen locations across the country on Wednesday.
AFGE's newest effort represents a step up in union mobilization on the federal level, building on the mobilization and energy that has been taking place at the state and local level, in places like Wisconsin and Ohio. On April 4, the labor movement is also planning a national day of solidarity, with events all around the country.
“Federal agencies already are stretched thin since they’ve been operating on last year’s budgets for the past six months,” AFGE National President John Gage said. “These budget cuts will decimate federal programs and services but won’t make a dent in the massive budget deficit, which was the result of two unfunded wars, the stock market collapse and trillion-dollar bailouts and tax breaks for corporations.”
The government is currently running on a temporary funding measure that runs out on April 8. Unless Democrats and Republicans come to agreement on a new funding bill, the government will shut down -- ceasing the operations of national parks, the processing of many permits, work at Superfund sites, and work by many federal contractors, among other consequences.
Last week, lawmakers and the White House failed to come to a compromise over the $61 billion in cuts in the House GOP bill and the $10 billion Senate Democrats have approved in the two stopgap measures that have so far kept the government running.
Also on the federal level, Democrats are attempting to stop a push led by Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) to make it harder for rail and aviation workers to unionize.