I have always held your paper in high esteem as a major supporter of federal employees. But your Oct. 20 news story about federal pay reform tarnished that image and alienated your federal employee readers.

Included at the end of the pay story was a short notation about federal employees being arrested at the White House. I was one of those federal employees. And the incident was not a footnote. It was history-making.

I am 73 years old, a retired federal employee, but still active in my union, the National Treasury Employees Union. On Oct. 19, I came to Washington from my home near Dallas to go to jail. It was the hardest decision I have ever made.

Being put behind bars for any reason goes against all my upbringing, my religious beliefs and my 25 years as a federal worker. But come to Washington I did, and along with 19 other NTEU members and leaders, I went to jail for what I believe.

I'm not sorry. I'm proud. I and the others acted, because we believe we represent a belief held by millions of federal workers that George Bush has broken all pledges of help to federal workers and the American people. We decided to participate in the first civil disobedience action in modern times by federal workers, because this president and this Congress turned away from our pleas for fairness.

I am disappointed that your paper saw our action as a footnote. I can promise you that you will see more of such actions by those of us who are seeing the interests of the public and the public service ignored by President Bush.

Van Riddel