Local News

Group protests 'anti-worker policies' outside Durham VA office

Posted September 12, 2014 1:58 p.m. EDT
Updated September 12, 2014 2:02 p.m. EDT

— Federal employees and community activists rallied for change outside the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs regional office in Durham Friday, protesting what they call anti-worker policies and poor leadership.

Representatives of American Federation of Government Employees, which represents about 210,000 VA employees across the country, hoped to get the attention of Daniel Hoffman, the network director for the VA's Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network.

The group has accused Hoffman of showing poor leadership, particularly for cutting the pay of VA employees after the national VA office set a moratorium on those pay cuts.

Mike Rosenblatt, who helped organize Friday's protest, said the cuts are hurting the lowest-paid VA employees, such as police officers and housekeepers – many of whom are veterans themselves.

He said those cuts also can affect the quality of care for veteran patients.

"The employees are here to stand with veterans," Rosenblatt said. "We're here to work with veterans, and we want strong management that's going to work well with us to make sure that we are providing the best health care for vets possible, and that means stopping downgrades."

Another demand AFGE made was the hiring of more doctors and nurses so that the region is in compliance with Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald's manage?? for more providers to get veterans needing health care off long wait lists.

Hoffman declined to comment on the protest Friday morning.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the VA Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network – also referred to as VISN 6 (Veterans Integrated Service Networks) – is one of 21 regional districts of the Veterans Health Administration.

It is made up of eight VA medical centers and 27 community-based outpatient clinics in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia and uses more than 13,500 clinical and support employees and about 4,000 volunteers to serve more than 320,000 veterans each year in the region.