Steve Beck, president of Local 15 of the American Federation of Government Employees at the Rock Island Arsenal, said he does not know how sequestration is going to affect the lives of people outside of the Arsenal.
“We’ve never seen anything like this in the federal government before,” Beck said Wednesday to about 50 people gathered at Community Health Care in Rock Island to hear what organized labor in the Quad-Cities had to say about the federal budget impasse in Congress.
But he knows how it will affect the employees he represents.
“In late April, Arsenal employees will be forced to stand down one day per week through the end of September,” Beck said. “This furlough will result in 22 unpaid days and a lost of two to three days of vacation and sick time, which computes to a 20 percent pay cut for five months.”
In all, more than 6,000 employees at the Arsenal will be affected, he said.
“Many employees are concerned about paying their bills,” Beck said. “Most people don’t live at a level 20 percent below their pay.”
Of the estimated $200 million in cuts to funding at the Arsenal, $40 million will be in the form of furloughs, he said.
John Reed, 49, has worked at the Arsenal for 28 years. His disabled son, Elias, 25, accompanied him to the meeting.
Reed said that the cut in pay amounts to $12,000 at a time when he and his wife are trying to buy a house.
But his biggest concern is his son, who is wheelchair bound.
“Elias depends on getting his medications, and his mother and I depend on the help of continuing care nurses who come to the house to help us with him,” he said. If sequestration affects disability and medication payments for Elias, he said, “We don’t know what we’ll do.”

(12) comments


The Arsenal is our area's biggest employer. During wartime employment there expands and wise folks put away some money for the lean times when peace breaks out and production of munitions and armaments is scaled back. Sequestration relief will not stop job cuts at the Arsenal. Curtailment of war spells less arms spending.

Jeffrey Smith

Wow - not true. When the first gulf war broke out, gas masks that were over 25 years old were still in use, production had to ramp up.

Wise folks put some money back? Tell that to all the single parents there. Those dollars are put into retirement, so that they will have a living wage.

Production is not scaled back. In fact, we closed several ammo plants under the control of the arsenal, and the Tank Command shuttered a facility. Their parent command, AMC, shuttered 3 of their subordinate commands at this time.

Munitions are not just sold to DoD from the arsenal. It's sold to other federal agencies that use conventional ammunition, as well as local, county and state law enforcement agencies. Yes, even Bettendorf has crime when we aren't at war, and the police still need bullets.

You have not been involved with the financial aspects, Bett - and you don't have a clue.

Sequestration relief will stop job cuts. Try again.

pta mom

George: Labor CAN'T be cut by 20%--did you read the article??? Folks are going to lose their homes, won't be able to buy medicine, will have no money to buy stuff to keep their households running smoothly, let alone keep the economy running smoothly.


pta mom, the article that i read said, labor not only could be cut, it would be cut. And as for those folks who "will have no money to buy stuff", i'm sure you and like minded people will dip into your own savings and provide financial support.


If labor can be cut by 20%: 1) Why haven't we done it already? 2) Why don't we make it permanent? Let's face it, our government is bloated and it's time to do some serious cutting.

Comment deleted.

Well, quite some heated rhetoric here. Personally, my work career started just over 50 years ago and I always felt blessed I was fortunate enough to be employed. Jeff's logic sounds like a hysterical woman who is about to cry. I hope he's not a veteran like myself. I have saved for my retirement from my own earnings, is subject to the stock market, and additionally my Social Security is not far from the chopping block . I'll deal with it like a man. George's comments are the only statements with any intelligence here.

Let's discuss the 20%. I am apolitical. That keeps me unemotionally rational (read: sane). The local media has reported on air that the one day per week loss would be $500 over a two week period. If pay at that level is predicated on 24 pay periods (48 weeks per year), a person is making @ $60,000 per year. That is well above the average per-capita income in the Quad-Cities. At approximately $31 dollars an hour, we would hope that worker has a competent skill to justify that (productive?) income.

As a skilled worker, common financial sense would dictate an emergency fund of six months pay. By the way, minimum wage is less than 25% of $60,000. Try that deduction. Those arsenal workers who choose to whine on the news are only hurting themselves by increasingly solidifying opinion against themselves.

America is changing and entitlements come in all forms. My point in all this asks whether the complainers are living right up to the extent of their income (or past it) like our irresponsible politicians. Accountability, a simple concept.

senor citizen

Great answer, too bad so many live beyond their means and honestly believe that they can spend their way to prosperity. It's time to fish or cut bait.

Comment deleted.

We are cutting back the procurement of ammunition because the war in Iraq is over and the war in afganistan is winding down. The military is also realigning their strategy to focus more on special forces, drones, etc. This means even if some of the sequestration cuts are reversed the RIA will still see job cuts since peacetime operations require less ammunition and the Army will need fewer heavy weapons that are typically repaired or updated at the JTMC. Peace is a great thing for most of us but it means less war spending at places like the Arsenal.

Jeffrey Smith

Yawn, if you would bother to make a couple of calls, you'd discover procurement of ammunition is not down, it's up.

You are addressing ONLY the JMTC, which is not even 1/6th of the workforce.

You are completely clueless to what the functions are of the First Army, Army Sustainment Command, Joint Munitions Command, CPOC, CPAC, etc.

The ASC is the single face for the army, responsible for logistic functions of ALL assets. Do you even know how many subordinates it has? Apparently not. Who will take the cuts if needed? The subordinate Forts, for one. Feel free to educate yourself by reading their public websites, speaking to their Public Affairs office, employees, etc.

Acquisition of non-ammo exceeds the ammo budget as well, Bett. There is the Rock Island Contracting Command, which now has not only Army cells, but air force as well.

CPAC has control of multiple CPOCs, which are responsible for personnel actions of approximately 1/7th of the US Army employment.

The Conventional Ammunition mission was enacted by congress, and at no time has this changed.

JMTC is not an ammo producer, however, it is competing with private contractors and winning non-mission related work.

Truly ridiculous.

Comment deleted.
senor citizen

You always start out with a negative comment and end up attempting to discredit people with your liberal, condescending drivel. I know you must be the product of a disfunctional educational system by your flawed logic and need to gain some real world experience.

Comment deleted.
senor citizen

The weather here is great when it's cold I just turn the fan off.If your background is as claimed you would be a conservative.

Jeffrey Smith

Sorry, bud, but I've told you on three separate occasions, I'm an ACTUAL conservative. You are a tea partier, who is not conservative, just like the other neo-cons. You don't care what laws you have to break to get there.

Sad you and the boys don't know what a true conservative is. I want less laws, just enforcement of existing - that's conservative. You advocate for additional laws. Sounds to me like you are liberal.

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