Thousands expected at sequestration rally at NH naval shipyard

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March 21, 2013, 8:19 am
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(NECN: Justin Michaels, Portsmouth, NH) - So far, day-to-day effects from the sequestration have not been felt much in New England, but all that's about to change. Early next week, hundreds of furlough notices will go out to employees of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Workers are taking a stand Thursday in opposition to those cuts.

A 20-percent reduction in pay is what people at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard face if Congress doesn’t act, and act fast on the funding cuts called the sequester.

If you ask anybody on the streets of Portsmouth, you’ll hear one theme: Congress needs to act now.

“I think they need to grow up and talk to each other,” says Portsmouth resident Christine Hegarty.

She knows all too well what a 20-percent cut in pay will do to the people who work at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

“I have two brother in laws that work at the shipyard and certainly it is going to affect their family and every other family.”

At issue for the shipyard workers are mandated furlough days. Furlough notices will be handed out next week if Congress doesn’t either pass a budget or repeal the sequester funding cuts. One day of pay per week will be lost every week for the next 22 weeks.

The shipyard paid nearly $422 million in payroll last year to its more than 5,300 employees, all of whom want an end to the gridlock in Washington over the sequester cuts. But it’s not just those who work at the shipyard who are affected. The reduction in pay means a reduction in spending at local businesses.

“We’ve really been cooking along in Portsmouth... The real estate market is much better and things have been improving and now all of a sudden we have this.... Who wants this?” asks Portsmouth business owner Byron Siegal.

A rally is set for noon Thursday in Portsmouth, and they are hoping the thousands who show up will be heard in Washington because it’s only the people on Capitol Hill who can do anything about the storm brewing on the horizon.

Tags: Justin Michaels, portsmouth new hampshire, sequestration, portsmouth new hampshire naval yard, christine hegarty, byron siegal
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