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Robins Workers React to Reduction in Furlough Days

5:32 PM, Mar 29, 2013   |    comments
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Some Robins Air Force Base employees say a reduction in furlough days is good, but not good enough.

The Department of Defense announced Thursday that its 700,000 workers will take 14 furlough days instead of 22.

A budget bill passed by Congress last week gave the department some flexibility in how the across-the-board budget cuts, known as the sequester, are applied.

At the AFGE 987 local union hall on Friday, Robins workers said there is only one thing for sure these days for federal employees, and that's uncertainty.

Weigh and Balance technician, David Jones, said, "Just about everybody you talk to. Everybody is concerned about it. Everything's still up in the air."

Electrical technician Heather Campbell agreed asking, "When? When is it going to happen? How is it going to happen?"

Campbell and Jones said the information constantly changes about furlough days.

The news this week of reduced days provided little relief to them.

Campbell said, "That's a cut, but they could have worked to get it lower or none."

Jones has a family to support, and Campbell's household depends on two paychecks from Robins.

She said, "He's going to get 14 days. I'll get 14 days. That's going to be a huge cut."

Union President Tom Scott says many of his 4,000-plus members work pay check to pay check. Two days without pay, each pay period from June through September will hurt. That's the latest guidance from the Pentagon on how the furloughs will be applied.

Scott says the sequester that prompted the furloughs, cuts spending for a decade.

He said, "Conserve their money in case the furlough still exists. Again, this is a ten-year issue, not a one year issue."

Jones says the struggle for civil service workers didn't start this year either.

He said, "No raises for three years. Pay freezes for two years. I've suffered already. Now, you're going to tell me I gotta suffer for another 14 days? At some point, it gets ridiculous."

A statement from Robins Air Force Base said the furlough reduction is good news for civilian employees.

CEO of the 21st Century Partnership, retired Major General Bob McMahon, said the same, but added the impact will still be significant to workers. He asked the community to be ready to help those impacted.

The Department of Defense said furlough notices will go out in early May.

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