Furloughed hospital workers protest government shutdown
Written by Michael Crowe, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
IOWA CITY (KWWL) -
Honking horns and revving engines -- these are sounds Patrick Kearns hopes will reach the ears of Capitol Hill.
It's a message from furloughed employees.
"These are folks that have worked here at the government for a long period of time," Kearns said. "They're dedicated to the mission of the hospital, and are being sent home without pay, or being ordered to be here without pay."
Kearns is president of the hospital's union, a chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees. The AFGE falls under the wing of the AFL-CIO.
Kearns said the technology department has been furloughed by the shutdown. That means many aren't working, the one's that still are aren't getting paid.
The union gathered in front of the VA Wednesday to voice their frustrations.
But it wasn't just members. Some came from across town to support the cause, for one simple reason.
"Because it's silly," said Pauline Taylor, a nurse in Iowa City. "This whole thing is silly to shut down the government like that, and [Congress doesn't] stop and think of the domino effect, like these folks that are taking care of their patients, and taking care of their mothers, fathers, brothers and uncles that have served our country."
She said the supportive honking was music to her ears.
"Oh, it's been wonderful," she said. "Lots of honks, lots of yelling, lots of thank-you's and thumbs up. It makes you feel good about what you're doing."
Amy Hunter is a healthcare tech at the VA. She said she hopes Congress gets their message, because she thinks they just don't understand.
"I don't think they have any idea how it affects people like us, because they don't really have to go through it themselves," she said.
Protesters left the VA around 5 p.m. Wednesday, but they hope Congress gets their message, and passes a clean spending bill.
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