WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- The balancing of summer budgets is about to get a lot harder.
Furloughs are going into effect for the biggest employer in the federal government but one major group of unions is not accepting this loss of income without a fight.
Sequestration budget cuts are dimming celebrations, canceling fire displays at many military bases. The cuts are raising the curtain on greater belt tightening in the coming days. On Monday, nearly 700,000 Department of Defense workers will begin 11 days of unpaid furloughs, one per week through the end of the fiscal year.
"We've become the ATM machine of Congress. Every time Congress can't find a place to go to find money to pay for things, they turn to the federal work force and they take another chunk out of their hide," said William Dougan, FWA Chairman.
The Federal Workers Alliance (FWA) wants to force Congress and other agencies the flexibility to cancel the furloughs and find savings in other ways. This week it's launching its furlough red zone campaign.
"We're asking our folks to sign digital electronic letters to Congress. We're asking them to pick up the phone and call," Dougan said. "Congress really needs to step up and do their job."
A DOD employee reached out to WUSA9 providing furlough letters for her department, a calendar of days as well as expressing her own frustration about her upcoming furlough days.
She writes of the sequester, "Why are only certain agencies having to sustain the burden of it? -- Burden of it? In addition it baffles my imagination as to why is the federal government continuing to hire people and not imposing a hiring freeze? Just this week we got two new employees. The furloughs represent a 20 percent pay cut over the 11 weeks.
"These are by and large middle class employees and so many of them are having a hard time making ends meet now," Dougan said.
The FWA is unlikely to stop these furloughs from kicking in on Monday. In fact, the unions probably won't receive much satisfaction at all this week since Congress is on paid vacation for its Fourth of July recess.