Steve Beck. local president of the American Federation of Government Employees, talks Wednesday about the impact of federal budget cuts on employees at the Rock Island Arsenal. The Quad-City Federation of Labor hosted the forum on the effects of the across-the-board cuts to Quad-City residents and the area's economy. (Kevin E. Schmidt/QUAD-CITY TIMES)


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.”