Federal sequester lays off 28 local blind employees - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Local blind employees laid off by federal sequester

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Federal cuts brought on by the sequester are now impacting local blind residents.

The Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired announced layoffs for just less than 50% of their employees.

On Monday, 28 of the 65 employees were notified they were being let go.

It's been eight years since Steve Ogletree lost his vision due to diabetic retinopathy, a systematic disease resulting in blindness. So for the past six years, Ogletree worked at the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

"I had to be re-trained on how to live without sight, so I got the belief in believing what I do was making a difference," he explained.

However, Ogletree received the heartbreaking news on Monday of being laid off. He says he's worried about how he and the 27 others will be able to support their families.

"With the unemployment being 70% among the blind, the opportunities are very limited," said Ogletree.

The Association's director John Mitchell says the cuts are devastating, and right now, their production floor is completely different from what it was last week.

"It's a ghost town quite frankly. We're currently using less than 50% of the equipment than we have," said Mitchell.

Mitchell says they haven't received a significant order from the government's General Services Administration since March 8th. Now, he's hoping to generate business from local companies in hopes of re-hiring the laid off.

"If there's anyone, any organizations out there, companies that could potentially use some help, some subcontracting, we'd love to hear from you," Mitchell conveyed.

Ogletree says he's thankful the company held off on the cuts as long as possible, but he's hoping to bounce back.

"I have trust that when things do pick up that I've made a mark good enough to be brought back," said Ogletree.

Mitchell says he's unsure how long these layoffs will last but, he fully intends to re-hire the employees affected by the cuts as soon as production returns to a sustainable level.

The nation will continue to feel the effects of the sequester on April 15th, when nearly 5,000 Department of Labor employees are expected to receive furlough notices.

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