Letters to be sent March 1 informing workers

Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 03:28 PM.

Officials said Wednesday afternoon that civilian employees of the Department of Defense will be sent letters March 1 informing them that furloughs may be implemented in April.

This will mean that the majority of Cherry Point’s 3,500 civilian employees at Fleet Readiness Center East and other base workers could be asked to work four out of five days, with the fifth day being unpaid, which translates into a 20 percent cut in pay.

 “The bottom line is furloughs will not actually start for DOD employees until late April. And we certainly hope that even if sequestration is triggered on 1 March we hope that Congress will act to de-trigger sequestration or if they can’t accomplish that goal by March 1st as the president suggested, to take some short-term action while they are dealing with the broader issue,” Robert Hale, under secretary of defense, said at a Pentagon press conference. “Meanwhile unfortunately we will continue our planning for furloughs. Frankly this is the one of the most distasteful tasks I have faced in my four years in this job.

FRC East spokesman Dave Marriott said Wednesday afternoon that the depot had not been informed of a decision on furloughs.

“The effects of sequestration and the Continuing Resolution on our military personnel will be devastating, but on our civilians, it will be catastrophic,” said Jessica Wright, acting under secretary of defense for personnel readiness. “These critical members of our workforce work in our depots that maintain and repair our tanks, our aircraft, our ships. They teach our kids. They care for our children. They provide medical treatment to all our beneficiaries. They take care of our wounded warriors.”

Wright said the effects could be felt worldwide.

“If furloughs are enacted, civilian employees will experience a 20 percent decrease in their pay between late April and September,” he said. “As a result, many families will be forced to make difficult decisions on where their financial obligations lie. Key benefits, such as life insurance benefits, health care, and retirement will generally continue. 

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