DSCC workers must take 11 unpaid days off
About 9,000 will be affected; forecast had been 22 days
WASHINGTON — Eddie Chacon spends his days making sure troops fighting overseas have what they need.
But now Chacon, an inventory manager at the Defense Supply Center Columbus in Whitehall, worries that federal spending cuts will mean he won’t be able to get what he needs in the months ahead.
Chacon and the estimated 9,000 civilian employees at the DSCC were told today they’d receive 11 days of furlough between July 8 and the end of September. The cuts amount to two days per pay period during that time, or one day per week.
The news could have been worse. Under a federal budget-cutting plan that went into effect March 1, the Defense Department had originally planned to furlough employees for 22 days.
For Chacon, 11 days without pay are daunting: He just built a house in Canal Winchester, and now he’s worried the furlough will affect his financing.
Even though the furloughs aren’t as grim as originally predicted, “It’s still going to affect your pocket, it’s going to affect your budget, it’s going to affect your everyday life,” he said.
“It has a domino effect,” he said. “If one domino goes down, then the rest go down.”
Announcing the decision yesterday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he was hopeful that the department might be able to lower the 11 days.
“If we can do better as we get through the front end of this over the next few months, we might be in a position to be able to knock that back,” Hagel said. “I can’t promise that. I won’t promise that. You deserve a fair, honest, direct conversation about this.”
The Defense Department will begin sending out furlough proposal notices May 28 through June 5. Employees will be able to respond to the proposals between June 4 and June 12, and the Defense Department will issue final furlough decision letters between June 5 and July 5.
Patty Viers, president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1148, one of the unions at the Whitehall complex, said while she’s relieved to finally know how many days are being cut, “it’s disappointing.” Defense employees had been dealing with uncertainty ever since the budget cuts went into effect March 1.
“At least now we know,” Viers said. “There’s no more waiting.”
But others questioned why even 11 days were necessary. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said the cuts could’ve been avoided by closing tax loopholes.
“We can’t continue to do these kind of austerity politics that clearly are a drain to our economic growth,” he said. “Nobody who’s fair-minded on this thinks it isn’t hurting our economy.”
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said, “I’m pleased the Pentagon was able to avert the more significant furlough levels, but sequester and even 11 days of furloughs is not the right way to find savings in the Defense Department.”
John Ramos, an instructor and course developer for the Defense Logistics Agency’s human resources department, said the cuts to his pay will hurt two households: He has sent his mother in Puerto Rico, a cancer survivor on a fixed income, part of his pay for the last seven years. Cutting that allotment, said the Clintonville resident, is not an option. “I’m already looking at getting a part-time job.”
Ramos said the cuts don’t make much sense: “I believe this is just cutting down at the working class. Start with Congress. See if they can be an example, not us.”
- Defense Department trims furlough days to 11 (fox6now.com)
- Pentagon Announces Furloughs for Civilian Employees (wtvy.com)