Arsenal workers to see furlough notices

It’s been nearly three weeks since the sequester took effect, and most folks in the Quad Cities probably haven’t seen much difference. Wednesday, though, the Quad City Federation of Labor hosted a community forum to highlight just how painful the cuts could soon be for area workers.

For the nearly 6,000 workers on the Rock Island Arsenal, the cuts are about to hit home.

“People will be informed next week that the furloughs will start; that’s the 30 day notification. Roughly the last week of April is when everything’s gonna hit, so I think attitudes probably will change around that time,” said Steve Beck, an Arsenal employee and AFGE Local 15 president.

For workers, the furloughs mean more than just time off from the job. It’s one day a week of unpaid time off — the equivalent of a 20 percent pay cut. The furloughs are expected to affect everyone from entry-level employees to management.

“We’ve already had people ask us about what can be done; we’re gonna face financial hardship. I mean, there’s a lot of anxiety about what’s gonna happen,” said Beck.

In Davenport, the cuts’ impact continues. There, the Humility of Mary Shelter is already turning people away from its doors.

“It trickles down. The people that are making more money take jobs making a little less, and it goes down to the guy that’s making minimum wage, and now he has no job. So, they end up in our shelter,” said Sandy Walters, director of Humility of Mary Housing and Shelter.

Now, with federal grants and personal donations on the decline, she’s left trying to figure out how to help more people with less money.

“We have people that are afraid to contribute. Do you give, or do you plan to live in the future? You just don’t know what’s ahead,” said Walters.

It’s why on Wednesday, shelter directors and Arsenal employees joined together to ask for the Quad Cities’ help in getting through to Washington.

“Write them, call them, let them know that they’re making bad decisions, and it’s affecting people,” said Walters.

“Tell them we want to stop the sequester. It’s gonna be really damaging to the whole country,” echoed Beck.