Y-12 employees protest against ongoing government shutdown

Y-12 employees protest against ongoing government shutdown

Posted:
Many Y-12 employees turned out Tuesday to protest the government shutdown in hopes of keeping their jobs. Many Y-12 employees turned out Tuesday to protest the government shutdown in hopes of keeping their jobs.
If Congress doesn't reach a budget deal by Thursday, Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge will be forced to furlough thousands of workers. If Congress doesn't reach a budget deal by Thursday, Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge will be forced to furlough thousands of workers.
"I've been working at Y-12 33 years, going on 34 years," said Betty Jones.  "It just seems so unfair and so unnecessary." "I've been working at Y-12 33 years, going on 34 years," said Betty Jones. "It just seems so unfair and so unnecessary."
"The inability to pass a budget is hurting us all," said Joan Nelson, a volunteer with Organizing for Action, that nonprofit, nonpartisan group that organized the protest. "The inability to pass a budget is hurting us all," said Joan Nelson, a volunteer with Organizing for Action, that nonprofit, nonpartisan group that organized the protest.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

OAK RIDGE (WATE) - As the government shutdown stretches into week three, more and more workers in East Tennessee are feeling the pain.

If Congress doesn't reach a budget deal by Thursday, Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge will be forced to furlough thousands of workers.

Many of them turned out Tuesday to protest the government shutdown in hopes of keeping their jobs.

With Thursday just two days away, they say they can't afford to go without a paycheck.

"It builds everyday as we get closer to the deadline," said Steve Jones, president of the Atomic Trades and Labor Council, a union which represents more than 2,100 Y-12 employees.

Y-12 will enter shutdown mode, furloughing some 3,600 employees, if Congress can't come to an agreement by then.

"The inability to pass a budget is hurting us all," said Joan Nelson, a volunteer with Organizing for Action, that nonprofit, nonpartisan group that organized the protest.

Y-12 workers and their families came to the event held at ATLC's Oak Ridge headquarters to protest the government shutdown.

"They didn't cause this. How are they going to support their families?" said Nelson.

They are hoping to get Congress' attention, urging them to reach a resolution.

Their message is clear: reopen the government.

"We want Congress to pass a budget. We have to negotiate with contractors everyday and we work out our differences. We do that and we expect them to do the same," said Jones.

Most of these employees, like Betty Jones of Oak Ridge, live paycheck to paycheck and fear they won't be able to pay their bills if furloughed.

"I've been working at Y-12 33 years, going on 34 years," said Betty Jones. "I have mortgages. I have bills like everyone else. Grocery bills. It just seems so unfair and so unnecessary. I don't think it should have happened."

Y-12 is hoping a deal can be reached in Washington before Thursday arrives.

"It's not a Democrat or Republican issue. It's an American issue," said Steve Jones.

Protestors say it's gong to take everyone working together to get it done.

"For our good. For our economies. For our families," said Nelson.

Protesters are urging local citizens to contact their legislators in Washington to let them know how important it is for them to reach a budget deal.

"If they don't hear from you, they think you're okay with this. Call your Congressman and tell them what you expect out of them and let's get moving again," said Steve Jones.

The ATLC says if Y-12 is forced to shutdown, only essential personnel needed to maintain the plant's current condition will continue to work, which amounts to about 900 people. Half of those are security forces.

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