Delay In Furlough Notices A Sight Of Relief For Now - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Delay In Furlough Notices A Sight Of Relief For Now


Expecting to get furlough notices Friday thousands of Department of Defense civilian workers now have two more weeks until they could be faced with the reality of forced time off work. That includes close to 7,000 employees at the Rock Island Arsenal. One union representative thinks the delay won't change much in the long run.

They're still thinking big picture as the sequester package hasn't changed. It's $85 billion in cuts this year, including $46 billion to the Department of Defense. If the initial furlough plan of one day per week for 22 weeks still happens it's an estimated $200 million dollars in economic impact to the Quad Cities.

"We've never seen anything like this. It's a great disruption for our employees, there's a lot of anxiety," said Steve Beck, President of the American Federation Of Government Employees Local 15. Civilian defense employees now have until April 5th before they can expect furlough notices. The pentagon pushed them back so officials can analyze the affect of a new spending bill on planned budget cuts.

"It gives the army flexibility in absorbing the cuts and prioritizing where the cuts will be take," added Beck. He thinks that because they did delay the notifications there's an effort to minimize the impacts of the furloughs.

"It's a glimmer of hope that Congress is actually taking some action, some recognition that sequestration is going to be damaging. But it really doesn't substantially change the outlook for our employees just yet."

Senior defense officials say as many as ten percent of the department's 800,000 civilian workers could be excluded from the forced days off. Beck says it means waiting the two weeks to see if there will be fewer lost days for workers. But as far as eliminating the furloughs entirely he's not holding his breath. "From that point we hope that it's less. We don't have any guarantee that it will be."

Especially frustrating is three years of wage freezes for federal employees and the prospect of a half a percent raise this year now smashed, all to go along with what many believe are still forthcoming furloughs. "It's going to be very damaging, and our piece of the arsenal while it's important, there's going to be a much bigger picture involved here than just us," added Beck.

The federal government employs about 2.2 civilians in all with about 800,000 of them at the Department of Defense.

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