Fort Drum Workers Brace For More Furloughs Next Year


What was 11 furlough days for civilian workers at Fort Drum has now been cut to six.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel approved the final numbers after the Pentagon found budget savings elsewhere.

Inside the union halls at Fort Drum, there's quiet celebration as workers will return to a 40-hour work week.

"Not only for pay purposes but to accomplish their missions without being stressed out to do so much in such a short time," said George Ottinger, president of National Association of Government Employees Local R2-61.

But, Hagel is already warning of even tougher times for the military next year if Congress doesn't head off more automatic spending cuts called sequestration.

"The inescapable conclusion is that letting sequester-level cuts persist would be a huge strategic miscalculation that would not be in our country's best interest," said Hagel.

Civilian workers know they would once again be a target.

"We've got to be concerned for next year. The budget cuts are going to be even more draconian under the sequester for FY 14. So we're not out of the woods yet," said Loren Zeilnhofer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 400 at Fort Drum.

"Could be a reduction in force instead of furloughs," said Ottinger.

In the end, the unions say the savings from furloughs amounted to a drop in the bucket.

"There is a general disgust with the politics behind it all," saod Zeilnofer. 

Most of the workers have sat out five furlough days already.

That means there's one more to go before it's back to full-time - at least for the rest of this year.

Friday, December 9, 2016
, Watertown, NY

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