AFGE Locals Ask for Help From Sen. Murray on Furloughs

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Three American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), AFL-CIO, Locals which represent Department of Defense (DoD) employees in Washington state asked Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a member of the powerful Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, to help prevent the Pentagon from abusing its authority to impose furloughs next year. 

The AFGE letter to Sen. Murray was signed by Cameron D. Ames, president of AFGE Air Force Local 1501 at Joint Base Lewis & McChord, in Takoma; Richard G. Doyal, president of AFGE Army/Air Force Local 1504 at Joint Base Lewis & McChord; and Kevin Eaves, president of AFGE Local 1502 at Madigan Army Medical Center, also in Tacoma.

As Ames, Doyal, and Eaves point out in their correspondence, DoD played politics with furloughs, imposed them indiscriminately, and only relented on their original decision of 22 days when they finally agreed to take the savings out of service contracts. 

The AFGE activists also report that the House of Representatives passed a Defense Appropriations Bill that includes strong prohibitions against DoD's use of furloughs next year.  One prohibition simply forbids the Department from imposing furloughs, period.  Another prohibition forbids the Department from imposing furloughs on employees who are employed by working capital funded (WCF) entities, including depots. Because WCF entities are funded through sales revenue rather than direct appropriations, the Department saves no money when such employees are furloughed. 

Ames, Doyal, and Eaves urge Sen. Murray to make sure both House furlough prohibitions are included in the final version of next year's funding measure for DoD.  As the three AFGE activists write:

"Civilian employees are not pawns that can be bloodlessly sacrificed by Pentagon officials…DoD civilian employees are men and women with families to support and financial obligations to meet.  We appreciate that sequestration imposes severe constraints on the Department, but there is no question that Pentagon officials abused their discretion in FY13 to impose furloughs on civilian employees.  The Department deserves no credit for finally relenting on its hasty and politicized decision to impose 22 days of furloughs on civilian employees. Large segments of the Department did not need to furlough, regardless—the Navy, the Air Force, the WCF entities, to mention but three examples.  And if the Department had more aggressively "reprioritized" its service contract spending, instead of waiting until the end of the fiscal year, no part of the Department would have needed to impose any furloughs, period.  It would be unfair to civilian employees and it would be irresponsibly neglectful by the Congress if the Department were allowed to enter FY14 with the same discretion that it so grievously abused in FY13."

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

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SOURCE American Federation of Government Employees


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