SUITLAND, Md. (AP)– Concerned federal workers filled a library at the U.S. Census Bureau’s headquarters on Friday to hear union leaders and Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin talk about how the debt limit deal and future budget cuts could affect federal employees.
Beth Moten, legislative and political director for the American Federation of Government Employees, said employees should brace for a messy process as lawmakers work on cutting federal deficits by more than $1 trillion over the next decade.
“We’ve got a lot of time here before we know what’s going to happen, but I am gravely concerned about the potential for job loss,” Moten told the crowded library just outside of Washington.
Johnny Zuagar, a union representative with the AFGE Local 2782, said he was concerned about future cuts, and he noted a proposal floated by House Republicans to cut between 650 and 700 jobs from the Census headquarters. He said many employees are wondering what will happen.
“They’re afraid, and until we see that final bill, you know, we’ve got to be concerned,” said Zuagar, a statistician at census headquarters.
Cardin, a Democrat, said the debt limit agreement takes the pressure off the initial proposal by the House GOP to cut census jobs.
“We know the work you’re doing here and it’s wrong to tell you to do it with less, so we’re going to do everything we can to preserve the budget,” Cardin said.
Nathaniel Booth, an intern who is in his third year working in facilities management at the census complex, said he and other interns are worried about what the cuts will mean to the future of their program.
“With the budget cuts and things of that nature, they’re not necessarily sure how that’s going to effect the internship program itself, whether they are even going to bring us back, so that’s one of our concerns — just making sure that we’re able to come back and continue to work,” Booth said.
Adria Thomas, who also is an intern at the census, said the timing is especially concerning because interns in the program are about to graduate and will be looking for jobs soon.
“I am extremely concerned because I have a family member that works with the federal government,” Thomas said. “Also, with other student interns, we are looking for employment really soon, since we are graduating really soon, so that’s a major component with all of the interns and a concern for us.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)