The Pentagon’s budget-cutting furloughs, which would have kept 5,000 Charleston-area civilian Department of Defense workers home one day a week through September, apparently won’t be that severe.
Instead, officials say they plan to reduce the number of unpaid days by eight, from 22 to 14.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made the decision this week.
Many military installations are still waiting for official word on Washington’s implementation plans, including Joint Base Charleston.
“As soon as we have a clear picture of what will happen ... we will update our workers and inform the public,” the base said in a statement Friday.
“It’s too early to tell if we will require additional town hall meetings to update our workforce,” the message also said. “But we always have the ability to reach workers through e-mail notifications and face-to-face discussions between workers and supervisors.”
Initially, it was believed civilian workers would have had to take off one day each week starting in late April and for the next 22 weeks. The new starting date is pegged for June.
While the move means less pay is being taken away from the workforce, a representative for some of the base’s civilian workers said the change-ups are still troublesome for employees, as many are making plans for finding day care, vacations and whether to go ahead on big expenditures.
“These were automatic cuts, but nobody had in place any way to carry it out,” Curtis Fludd, the local president of the National Association of Government Employees, said Friday.
It is anticipated that furlough notices will be sent out in early May. The notes are expected to say employees will be furloughed for one day a week for the remaining 14 weeks of the fiscal year.
The furloughs are part of the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration, which took effect March 1. The military’s portion of the furloughs is expected to save about $2.5 billion.
Charleston is home to more than 50 military commands of all sizes, including the Air Force Base, Naval Weapons Station, the Consolidated Brig, and SPAWAR, the Navy’s high-tech installation in Hanahan.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.
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