Shipyard workers hoping Congress will notice rally

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March 21, 2013, 1:05 pm
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(NECN: Lauren Collins, Portsmouth, N.H.) - Metal Trades President Paul O’Connor was the first to speak about the cuts.

"One day a week for 22 consecutive weeks, we will not be paid," he said.

But it's not just shipyard workers hit by sequestration, it's air traffic controllers.

"Twenty thousand of these aviation safety professionals nationwide," says Air Traffic Controller Jay Bowers. 

Local Head Start programs will take a cut too, as Rockingham County Head Start Administrator Patte Ardozzoni explained, "'No, there's no seat in Head Start, I'm sorry you're going to have to stay home.' What does that look like? Dipping back into the cities and towns for assistance."

The lunch time crowd rallied at Prescott Park in Portsmouth, across the mouth of the Piscataqua from the Naval Shipyard where more than 5,000 civilian workers will get furlough notices early next week. Workers like Carol Worster and her husband, who have a combined 47 years at the base. 

She's willing to sacrifice for everyone's benefit.

"It's just the looming threat that it may be longer or we may be the only ones that are perhaps pointed at or persecuted with it," she said.

Furloughs are expected to last until the end of September. These workers hope it won't go on any longer than that, which it could unless Congress acts to repeal the cuts or passes a budget. 

"They need to grow up, put their differences aside, go into a room and perform the people's business just like the people on this island do every single day," said third-generation shipyard worker John Joyal. 

Even the head of New Hampshire's AFL-CIO, who praised the support the state's congressional delegation has for the base and other federal employees, says everyone in Washington should be afraid for their job.
"People are going to react to this if this actually goes much further," said Mark MacKenzie. 

The New Hampshire delegation sent staffers to the rally, though they did not address the crowd. Their offices tell NECN Thursday that the arbitrary nature of the across the board cuts is irresponsible and they support the shipyard and its workers.

Tags: maine, navy, new hampshire, congress, Portsmouth, Lauren Collins, Kittery, furloughs, sequestration, sequester, Automatic Spending Cuts, naval shipyard
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