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14 Days of Furlough Is Better Than 22, But It Is No Win

US_Capitol_by_DBKing_FlikrYesterday it was announced that the Department of Defense would reduce the number of forced furloughs for DOD civilian employees from 22 days (one month over the next six) to 14 workdays.

“Most Defense Department civilians can expect 14 furlough days this year instead of the previously planned 22 days, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed Thursday, adding that the department needs additional flexibility to respond to across-the-board budget cuts from sequestration.”

This is somewhat good news for the over 5000 workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard who have been fighting back against the mandatory sequester cuts.

Giving workers almost two work weeks of pay back, or in other words not taking two weeks worth of pay is good, however it should not be called a win.  The fact that the DOD is going to take another three weeks of pay from these men and women is a shame.

“Federal employee unions were not buying into the Hagel’s reasoning. Defense is not taking full advantage of the added flexibility and “needs to eliminate furloughs entirely,” the American Federation of Government Employees said in a statement Thursday.”

“The department’s leaders have always had the flexibility to impose budget cuts from sequestration in any way they chose,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. stated. “Although reducing the number of furlough days from 22 to 14 shows that they’re listening, they still haven’t gotten the whole message.”
(GovExec.com) (see full release from AFGE)

We need to continue to push our elected Congressional Representatives and U.S. Senators to pass a budget that will eliminate all of the furloughs throughout the government.  The Sequester has already begun and companies have already started to shed workers due to these cuts.  For federal employees there is still time to fix this problem before real harm is done to these middle class families.  Most of the furloughs will not take effect until the second week of April.  This means that Congress could come back from their vacation (recess) and do what they are elected to do.  Pass a budget to remove the sequester cuts, and keep the federal government open for business.

John Joyal a worker at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, NH summed it up completely at a rally to cancel the cuts last week.  He said:

The men and women at that shipyard over there – every single day, they put their politics aside, their gender aside, their religion aside, their ideological beliefs aside, you name it, they put everything aside to go perform the people’s business.

“That flag right there does not belong to the right-wing of the GOP of our Congress, that flag belongs to the American people. What the US Congress needs to do is, they need to grow up, put their differences aside, go into a room and perform the people’s business just like the people on this island do, every single day.

(Video of John Joyal’s speech, a must watch)



About Matt Murray

Matt Murray is the creator and an author on the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor and progressive politics. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message. Follow him on Twitter @NHLabor_News
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