Department of Highway workers will be protesting the sale of equipment today in Buckhannon, equipment they contend is needed in counties to provide service.

Members of United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America Local 170 say they will hold the rally.

The Highway Department says they're just trying to unload some equipment the agency can no longer use.

Deputy State Highway Engineer John Walker says "We have some dump trucks. We have some end loaders. We have some old tractors, a few pickup trucks, a variety of things you would see out on highway work."

Protesters claim much newer equipment is on the auction block, not discussed in press releases. Pickets are expected to appear this morning as the auction begins.

The number of pieces of equipment that was scheduled to be auctioned has been trimmed.

"Most of it's old, reached its useful life, has a lot of repair work needed," Walker says. "You try to turn over stuff and get new things when you can and some of it is trying to be more efficient and just do more with less too."

A number of highway workers contend the sale and the "Core Maintenance Program" is a smokescreen for privatizing the highway department.

The Buckhannon auction will feature 263 pieces of equipment and another 219 miscellaneous items.

The auction marks the second big auction this year for the agency and is expected to raise $1.2 million, said Bob Andrew, the agency's equipment director.

An auction in May generated about $1.5 million when 306 pieces of equipment and 232 miscellaneous items were sold.