breaking news

Severe T-storm watch, wind advisory in effect 

Wright-Patt employees will face 11 furlough days starting in early July


Thousands of Wright-Patterson civilian employees won’t spend as much time off the job without pay after the Pentagon dropped the number of furlough days to 11 from 14 on Tuesday.

The reduction cut in half the 22 furlough days that 13,000 local civil service workers originally faced earlier this year, but amounts to a $55 million loss in wages for Wright-Patterson employees, said Col. Cassie B. Barlow, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson.

That’s “still a big impact on the Miami Valley which is the reason we’re still hopeful this will continue to reduce or go away,” she said Tuesday, while calling the reduction in days “very encouraging.”

Pushed back for months, furlough notices are expected to be sent around June 5. One-day-a-week furloughs would begin July 8. Fewer than 100 Wright-Patterson civil service workers will be exempt, the base commander said. They will include medics and firefighters, although how many firefighters will be kept on the job is not yet settled, she said.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told an audience of civilian Defense Department employees in Alexandria, Va., he had thoroughly looked at every option and additional cuts to military readiness and training would have jeopardized national security. Automatic budget cuts, known as the sequester, have forced the Defense Department to cut $37 billion between March and the end of September, according to the most recent figures provided by the Pentagon.

“Finally, we got to a point where I could not responsibly go any deeper,” he told employees Tuesday in an address streamed online.

Hagel didn’t rule out reducing the number of days further, however. The Pentagon has asked Congress to give the Defense Department more authority to “reprogram” where to spend money.

Michael Gessel, Dayton Development Coalition vice president of federal programs in Washington, D.C., said civilian workers serving the military “deserve better than this.”

“In general, this is a step in the right direction but it is still an unacceptable way to run the Defense Department or the government,” he said. “These are random cuts instead of making responsible decisions.”

Fewer furlough days are possible if Congress gives the Pentagon more flexibility to move money between accounts, according to Todd Harrison, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, D.C.,

Unless Congress and the White House change course, the failure to reach a budget deficit reduction agreement kicked in the start of nearly half a trillion dollars in cuts to the Pentagon budget during the next decade.

This year, the Air Force has cut nearly a third of the flying hours for combat squadrons and anticipated a growing maintenance backlog. At Wright-Patterson, the 88th Air Base Wing has aimed to trim $30 million, or 40 percent of its budget.

The Air Force Materiel Command was in negotiations to reach a memorandum of understanding with employee unions on how the furloughs will be handled, AFMC spokeswoman Sue Murphy said in an email Tuesday.

The Dayton Daily News could not contact the American Federation of Government Employees Council 214 for comment on Tuesday.

The trickle-down impact of fewer dollars flowing into the economy has already been felt locally, some businesses said Tuesday.

Not far from the gates of Wright-Patterson, Angie Stringer, manager of Cadillac Jacks Sports Bar & Grill in Fairborn, said fewer civilian base workers have stopped in. “We used to be packed for lunch with civilians from over there,” she said.

Michael Gharst, owner of Roush’s Restaurant in downtown Fairborn, said the concern about furloughs has had an impact at his eatery. “It’s going to affect me one way or the other, there’s no way around it, whether it’s one or 25” days, he said.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the 11 days would “severely impact” base employees.

“I have heard from business owners, restaurant employees, local leaders and everyone in between who has told me how sequestration has impacted their lives,” Turner said in a statement.

Turner said President Barack Obama and the Senate had “failed to meet the House on a solution to this mess.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said the cuts could have been avoided by closing tax loopholes. He said he wanted the House and Senate to agree on a budget so they could cancel future furloughs. “There’s no reason the sequester needed to happen,” he said.

The cuts will continue to thwart the economic recovery, he said.

“We can’t continue to do these kind of austerity politics that clearly are a drain to our economic growth,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a statement he was “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.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Military

Wright Patt, defense firm work to protect weapons from cyber threats
Wright Patt, defense firm work to protect weapons from cyber threats

The Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded a $47.9 million contract to a defense contractor to explore ways to protect weapon systems from cyber attacks, according to the Department of Defense. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., which has an office in the Dayton region, will research the problem at Wright-Patterson, the Defense Department reported...
Cottrel: Clark County veterans honored to serve, be recognized
Cottrel: Clark County veterans honored to serve, be recognized

Last weekend I was impressed by all the special events surrounding Veterans Day. There were so many and they were well done. When I was growing up, Veterans Day was kind of a quiet holiday. I remember the red paper poppies that were sold and all the reminders of World War I. After all, the end of “The Great War” was on the 11th day of the...
Loud noise from fighter jets could be heard this week
Loud noise from fighter jets could be heard this week

F-16 fighter jets are set to launch through Ohio’s skies on night training missions this week. The Ohio Air National Guard jets with the 180th Fighter Wing will launch Monday through Thursday during the training exercise, according to the Toledo-based unit. RELATED: Russian surveillance jet flying out of Wright-Patterson The flights are weather...
$115K in veterans scam funds seized goes to Honor Flight Dayton
$115K in veterans scam funds seized goes to Honor Flight Dayton

Honor Flight Dayton is one of several Oho veterans groups to be awarded grants from nearly $1 million seized from a veterans charity scam. Ohio Attorney Gen. Mike DeWine announced the grants Saturday on Veterans Day. “We worked hard to ensure this money would be used as originally intended -- to help veterans,” DeWine said. “Bobby...
Vandalia Pearl Harbor survivor celebrates 100th birthday at VFW
Vandalia Pearl Harbor survivor celebrates 100th birthday at VFW

A Vandalia Pearl Harbor survivor celebrated his belated 100th birthday on Veterans Day. Frank Ruby woke up to the Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941. Although his birthday is Nov. 1, family and friends thought it would be fitting to celebrate the veteran and all the other American heroes Saturday at the VFW on Wilmington Pike. “They give their lives...
More Stories