National union leaders visit Salisbury, criticize VA plan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 8, 2008

By Steve Huffman
Two national union leaders visiting Salisbury today warned that planned changes to the Hefner VA Medical Center could cost 1,000 jobs ó an assertion denied by a spokeswoman for the medical center.
“It won’t be like a plant closing, it’ll be more like a constant whacking away,” said J. David Cox, national secretary-treasurer for the American Federation of Government Employees.
Carol Waters, pubic affairs officer for the VA Medical Center, said the planned changes won’t result in any job cuts.
“That’s not true,” Waters said when told about the huge job losses that Cox mentioned. “It’s unfair to our veterans and our staff to upset them by saying that.”
Cox was speaking to AFGE members during a luncheon at the VA. Also speaking was John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO.
Both Cox and Sweeney said the job cuts will be devastating to veterans served by the VA, as well as the Rowan County economy.
VA administrators announced last month that the hospital will be making a transition away from inpatient, emergency and surgical services to a long-term and mental-health facility for veterans.
The news has been received with much criticism by both veterans and VA employees.