Warren — More than 40 people braved the icy first day of spring to protest in front of the Detroit Arsenal the impact of sequestration cuts on federal workers and the public.
Organized by the American Federation of Government Employees, the event was one of more than 100 scheduled rallies outside federal agencies across the country Wednesday.
Following the protest, participants crossed 11 Mile to the parking lot of Handy Home Products, where speeches and a warm tent with food and beverages awaited.
Monique Buchanan, executive vice president of AFGE Local 3239, spoke before the crowd, sharing the struggles of her fellow Social Security Administration workers.
Buchanan of Livonia stressed the $85 billion forced cuts through the sequestration has slashed employee work hours, increased lines at offices, and in some cases, has led to closures of Social Security Administration offices.
"This is not just black and white, there's this big gray area," Buchanan said.
Buchanan said online services don't cover many needs such as late Social Security checks or lost Social Security cards. The lack of personal services can be especially hard on seniors.
"The elderly often prefer face-to-face interaction and many are not computer savvy," she said.
Paul Veselenak, AFGE Local 1658 president said federal employees are being forced to take pay cuts of 20 percent to 40 percent
"This is devastating," Veselenak said.
He added there will be a direct effect on the nation's economy since less money in federal workers' pockets means less money to spend on food, clothing and other goods and services.
While Metro Detroit AFL-CIO President Chris Michalakis said Republicans in Congress were to blame, Matt DeMinico of Washington Township didn't agree.
DeMinico, a federal worker, said he was livid with President Barack Obama and thought he was using sequestration as a way to avoid unpopular budget cuts such as those in social spending.
Also Wednesday, the Action of Michigan, a national partner of Americans for Tax Fairness, held a press conference in Lansing, demanding Congresstake immediate action to end the cuts to education, public safety, mental health and other services.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, sequester cutswill result in the loss of 750,000 American jobs and threaten services such as Head Start, Meals on Wheels, and job training for veteransunless Congress acts to repeal them.