Crane Naval Base employees plan first protest due to sequester

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Civilian employees at Crane naval base are taking unprecedented action by planning a widespread protest, which could be the first in the history of the naval base.

The public doesn’t often get to see much about the work that goes on inside the Naval Support Activity Crane, but on Friday, some of the 3,500 plus civilian workers will take their frustrations with sequester furloughs to the public right outside the front gate.

“We’re all going to struggle,” said Tamara Dickens, a representative for the Army side of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1415.

Dickens and Mary Crow, who represents the Navy side of the AFGE Local 1415, will be among those gathering on Friday to protest just outside the main entrance to the NSA Crane.

“We have people that have been deployed,” Crow said. “The Army side works with bombs. We do a lot of things for the military and when we see Congress get on television and say that this sequestration is not affecting anybody, well they’re not cutting their pay by 20 percent.”

Crow said employees have already dealt with a three-year pay freeze, but if Congress doesn’t act soon, a 22-day furlough will go into effect in late April. They will lose roughly 20 percent of their pay until September. That could have a far reaching impact.

“It’s not just going to affect the people here that work for the government,” Dickens said. “It’s going to also affect the communities.”

“Crane is the largest employer in the surrounding counties and Davis, Martin, Lawrence and Greene are going to be devastated by this because you’re talking around $45 million that’s not going to be going into the economy,” Crow said, “plus the reduction in the tax base for these counties and the entire state.”

After years of working in a place where politicians often visit, Dickens said she simply hopes they listen to this message.

“Don’t forget the people here in the small towns that voted for you, that put you into office,” she said. “You were put there by being voted for and, you know what, you can be removed.”

Friday’s protest will run from 11 a.m. until 12 p.m. in the parking lot of the Lonely Night Saloon, near Crane’s main gated entrance off Ind. 231.

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