Warren — More than 40 people protested Wednesday in front of the Detroit Arsenal about the impact of budget cuts on federal workers and the public.
The event was one of more than 100 scheduled rallies across the country organized by the American Federation of Government Employees, the federal government's largest union.
Federal employees are being forced to take pay cuts of 20 percent to 40 percent, said Paul Veselenak, president of the union's Local 1658.
Many federal agencies are requiring workers to take unpaid furlough days — something many private companies imposed upon their workers during the recession.
"This is devastating," Veselenak said.
He contended 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.
Republicans and Democrats have said they oppose the sequester cuts, but couldn't agree on a compromise to replace the across-the-board spending reduction that will reduce this year's deficit to a projected $900 billion from $1 trillion in 2012. Democrats want to raise taxes and close tax loopholes, while Republicans oppose any more tax increases after the ones some of them helped Democrats approve in a Jan. 1 fiscal cliff deal.
The $85 billion in 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, said Monique Buchanan, executive vice president of the American Federation of Government Employees' Local 3239.
"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.
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 to avoid budget cuts such as those in social spending.
Also Wednesday, the Action of Michigan, a national partner of Americans for Tax Fairness, hosted a press conference in Lansing, demanding Congresstake immediate action to end the cuts to education, public safety, mental health and other services.