Furloughed government employees protest, plan Beaufort rally

mmcnab@beaufortgazette.comOctober 1, 2013 

Furloughed members of the local American Federation of Government Employees union will rally Thursday in Beaufort to protest the government shutdown.

Local union president Sue Partridge and several other union members were out Tuesday on the corner of Marsh Road and Boundary Street in Beaufort, just hours after they were notified about furloughs because of the partial government shutdown. On Thursday, they'll be outside Beaufort City Hall on Boundary Street at 11 a.m. protesting, Partridge said.

Partridge said she was sent home from Marine Corps Depot Parris Island around 1:15 p.m. Tuesday after arriving at the base at 8 a.m. Base leadership on Parris Island had civilian employees stay, hoping for movement in Washington, but eventually relented and began handing out notices at about noon, she said.

Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort did the same, holding employees until about 11 a.m. before beginning the shutdown.

About 20 union employees participated at some point in Tuesday's protest, with signs created for a protest in July over furloughs caused by the sequester. Many of the signs featured a toll-free phone number for the White House, one that is now out of service because the operators are on furlough, Partridge said.

Of the 442 civilian employees on Parris Island, 291 have been placed on furlough, according to a base news release. The air station said Monday that more than 1,200 civilian defense employees at the base could be sent home.

Partridge said the furloughed employees fear a protracted shutdown. Civilian employees on the bases have received just one full paycheck since July because of furlough days mandated by the sequester.

"My mortgage company and SCE&G aren't going to care about how I'm affected by the shutdown," she said. "I don't have savings to fall back. It's already been cut into by the furlough days we had planned for."

Of the seven furloughed employees protesting with Partridge at about 2 p.m. Tuesday, three were disabled veterans and two were single-income families reliant on military jobs.

"If this drags on, we're going to lose a lot of good people," she said. "If we could affect Congress' salaries the way it affects ours, this would be over tomorrow."


  • The following facilities and services at Parris Island and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort are among those that have been closed or suspended indefinitely as a result of the government shutdown, according to the bases' Facebook pages: commissaries, museum, libraries, theaters, fitness-center classes, tram service for Family Day and graduations, sports programs, bowling alleys, auto hobby shops, Brig & Brew, recreational gear issue, Marine Corps Family Team Building Programs, New Parent Support Program, Personal & Professional Development Program, and Youth Centers School Age Care Programs.

    Partridge said the commissaries, which closed at 7 p.m. on each base, were packed with people trying to prepare for an extended shutdown.

    Recruit training, to include Family Day and graduation events, will continue as scheduled on Parris Island.

  • The Savannah Coastal Refuges -- which include Pinckney Island near Hilton Head and the Savannah National Wildlife National Refuge near Hardeeville -- are closed to the public because of the government shutdown.

    Only functions necessary to respond to emergencies and to protect human life or property will continue, a refuge news release said. All fish and wildlife management activities and public programs will be canceled.


Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.

Related content: Civilian military employees to take brunt of shutdown in Beaufort County

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