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Furloughed Workers Protest At Social Security Building

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
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NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – The second day of a partial U.S. government shutdown brought a protest to Dallas’ Social Security Administration building along Central Expressway.  Some 30 people from unions and liberal activist groups called on Republicans to give up trying to de-fund the health care law.  They chanted, “Do your job, do your job.”

A local government union rep who works there was part of the demonstration against the shutdown.  “So, we are working in a government shutdown, which means we are working with no pay,” said Dana McCracken, local president of the American Federation of Government Employees.  She used her lunch hour to demonstrate outside her workplace.

As a part of her everyday job McCracken meets face-to-face with the public at the social security office, which is why she says she is working without pay.  “Our support staff, our regional office, and those kinds of things are furloughed.  So we are working in a government shutdown, which means we are working with no pay.”

McCracken helps members of the public like Linda Hodge, who says she had no trouble as she applied for social security retirement benefits.  “No, I had an appointment at 11:15 and I got in at 11:15, so it was perfect,” Hodge told CBS 11 News.

There are limited services at the office, says McCracken.  People can apply for benefits but not for a new social security number.

Other government services remain at least partially open.  The FBI is operational, so gun dealers can still run background checks for firearms sales. The IRS is accepting payments as an October deadline draws near to file the last of the 2012 tax forms for which some people got extensions, but it is not issuing refunds in returns filed on paper.

And despite reports of some veterans cemeteries being shut down, the DFW Veterans Cemetery still performs 15 internments a day, on average. “They tell us they have enough funds to get us through to the middle of the month,” cemetery director Ron Pemberton explained.  He also promises even at that point that furloughs won’t delay the cemetery’s  mission.  He can cut out maintenance and landscaping and still employ crews to honorably bury veterans.   “Will we shut the doors for internments? No. We wouldn’t do that. We’ll be open for internments. No matter what happens. There’ll be a crew here to maintain that mission.”

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