Furloughs Start At Fort Drum

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"I've had people come in worried about losing their cars, worried about how their going to pay their rent," said Jeff Zulke, president of Local 400 of the American Federation of Government Employees.

Those are the concerns civilian employees on Fort Drum have been worrying about since furloughs were announced - 20 percent less pay for 11 weeks.

But Zuhlke says it never had to come to this. 

"Anybody who works on this instillation can find $1.3 million in cost savings without furloughing federal employees. It can be done, but they haven't been given the option to do that," he said.

The Department of Defense decided on the furloughs in an effort to cut around $2 billion in defense spending and Fort Drum had to furlough all employees unless they were absolutely needed.

"Can we maintain a certain level of service as directed by the Army and our analysis? The answer was we could without exempting anybody other than what we were told from above," said Fort Drum Garrison Commander Colonel Gary Rosenberg.

"To be honest, their hands are tied in this process as well. And that's part of the problem with sequester," said Zuhlhe.

But Zuhlke says there may be some good news for those furloughed employees. 

"If they can adjust the number of furlough days down, they will do it.  My personal opinion is that they may drop down to 7 days of furlough," he said.

But even though that may be good news in the short term, sequestration continues for a decade.

That could mean more furloughs or even cutting certain civilian jobs altogether.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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