Federal shutdown could disrupt Social Security services

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As lawmakers in Washington scrambled to pass a federal budget, workers at the Social Security Administration took to the streets downtown St. Paul Wednesday, warning that a government shutdown would disrupt the services they provide to the most vulnerable Americans.

“We serve seniors and the disabled,” said Sharon Schwarz, a Social Security worker and member of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3129. “We want to continue to serve.

“We’re out here not to be protesting something, but to show we are for continuing to serve the public. It’s about serving people, and that’s something we’re serious about.”

Schwarz and her 70-plus co-workers in St. Paul are among the 800,000 federal workers who will find themselves furloughed next Monday, unless Congress and President Obama reach a last-minute deal on the federal budget for fiscal year 2011.

AFGE members also are concerned about $1.7 billion in cuts to Social Security included in House Republicans’ proposed 2011 budget – cuts the union says would have “a devastating impact on the services provided to seniors, the disabled and the families who have lost a parent or spouse.”

Michael Moore edits The Union Advocate, the official publication of the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation.