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VA Hospital Employees Protest Shutdown
Updated: Wednesday, October 9 2013, 11:31 PM CDT
IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- About 30 IT employees have been furloughed at the VA Hospital in Iowa City, and many are still expected to show up to work without getting paid.
On Wednesday, many of those employees and their coworkers with the American Federation of Government Employees took to the sidewalks just outside the hospital to protest the shutdown and furlough of nonessential workers.
"I think it's incredibly demoralizing," said AFGE Local 2547 president Patrick Kearns. "The rubric this is being done on is essential and nonessential -- we don't have anybody's job here who isn't essential."
And IT specialist Jon Osterkamp would say that's true. He's still working 40 hours per week, with only the promise of a paycheck sometime in the future.
"I'm OK right now. If this goes on, I won't be," Osterkamp said.
Not only does Osterkamp have a family to support, but he drives 100 miles every day from Monticello to work. So he's pumping money into his tank without getting a refill in his wallet.
"It's kind of like being held hostage," he said.
But Osterkamp and his fellow furloughed employees are still showing up to work, because, as one protesters sign read, they "care."
"These people picked these jobs because they believe in public service. Nobody does these jobs to get rich," Kearns said.
But with plenty of honks for a budget, those employees -- many of whom are veterans themselves -- are just hoping Washington pays attention to the people who are keeping everything in motion.
"And (Congress is) getting paid right now and they're not being furloughed, and I don't feel like they're doing their job or doing justice to the people they work for," said VA electrician Pat Spaniol.
The furloughed employees that CBS 2 News spoke to said they don't necessarily trust that they'll even be compensated for their time in the future, even though they've signed paperwork indicating that they would.
The VA told the protesters it had no official comment.