Service workers at base at risk of cut hours, layoffs

These workers tend to children in day care, wait tables at restaurants and work on the greens at golf courses, among other jobs across the base. Their salaries are dependent on how much business the locations on base where they work generate, unlike civil service employees whose salaries are appropriated by Congress and part of sequestration.

If fewer customers use the base services, a drop in revenue could mean less hours on the job for the 602 employees Jerry E. Stanfill supervises.

“When the furloughs occur, if the furloughs occur, it could easily affect the number of customers we see in our activities,” said Stanfill, director of the 88th Force Support Squadron at Wright-Patterson. ” … That’s a direct correlation.”

Those service-oriented and seasonal federal employees work in military exchanges and morale, welfare and recreation activities. Among other places, that includes two golf courses, a bowling alley, an airmen’s club, a tennis club, restaurants, outdoor recreation venues, base lodging, a library, and child development and after school youth programs. All told, the sales and activities brought in $23 million in revenue last year and paid $15.3 million in wages.

“A very large number of our employees are family members of our active-duty personnel on the installation,” Stanfill said, or about 15 percent or more than 90 workers.

Separately, the base exchange’s 212 employees, who work at a retail-style department store operated by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, would be excluded from furloughs because the store’s sales cover workers wages, according to Chris Ward, an AAFES spokesman in Dallas.

The Air Force has about 23,000 “non-appropriated fund” employees and the Department of Defense has 133,000 worldwide, according to Navy Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

The 13,000 Wright-Patterson civilian employees potentially confronting 22-day furloughs starting in late April include the base commissary’s estimated 100 workers. Their wages are congressionally appropriated, too, Department of Defense spokespersons said. Those furloughs are expected to trigger the closure of U.S. military commissaries worldwide for one day a week beginning in late April because of automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.

Commissaries, or military grocery markets, receive federal money that let service members and their families buy products at typically a 30 percent discount compared to a civilian grocery store, according to Kevin L. Robinson, a Defense Commissary Agency spokesman at Fort Lee, Va.

Troy Tingey, president of American Federation of Government Employees Council 214, represents more than 6,500 Wright-Patterson employees facing the possibility of furloughs between late April and the end of September, or about a 20 percent pay cut for that time period. He indicated workers without congressionally appropriated wages should not face unpaid time off work, either.

“The less people that’s furloughed in my mind the better off we are going to be,” he said in a telephone interview from Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

Many of these workers, along with being married to base personnel, are paid at lower rates than other jobs, he said. “If they make $30,000 a year,” Tingey said, “they are probably doing pretty good so that 20 percent would really harm them.”

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