Madigan’s civilian workers protest upcoming furloughs
Civilian employees of Madigan Army Medical Center on Wednesday protested their upcoming furloughs caused by sequestration.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Cate Sumner is a surgical nurse who spends 12 hours a day tending to soldiers, their family members and retirees at Madigan Army Medical Center. In late April, she is scheduled to begin furloughs, losing 20 percent of her pay through September as a result of the sequestration budget cuts approved by Congress.
So on Wednesday, she joined other federal workers subject to the furlough in a chilly demonstration atop an Interstate 5 overpass near Lakewood, Pierce County, that was organized by the American Federation of Government Employees.
“There is a lot of worry. Concern for the patients and concern for our own personal lives,” Sumner said. “We were told no one is exempt. It is across the board.”
Jay Ebbeson, a Madigan public-affairs officer, said Wednesday that about 70 percent of the hospital-staff members are civilians, and thus subject to the furlough.
The hospital has sought to spare some essential civilian staffers, but so far no exemptions have been approved.
“We are still sorting through the impacts and trying to figure out how we are going to implement the furloughs,” Ebbeson said.
Sumner works on a unit where about half the staff is civilian. The other half is comprised of military personnel, who are exempt from the furloughs.
She figures the military nurses will work longer hours to make up for some of the staffing cuts.
Sumner was joined on the overpass by another Madigan nurse, Renee Summerlin, a single mother of two.
“This will definitely have a negative impact on me. I am the only income for my family,” Summerlin said.
Other federal employees who attended the demonstration included day-care workers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and federal prison employees.
Hal Bernton: 206-464-2581 or firstname.lastname@example.org