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AFGE Says DoD Reduction In Employee Furloughs Doesn't Go Far Enough, Calls For Eliminating Furloughs For All Civilian Employees

Reducing unpaid furloughs from 22 days to 14 days still amounts to painful cut, jeopardizes mission

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --  Responding to the Department of Defense's announcement that it will reduce the number of unpaid furloughs civilian employees will be forced to take, the American Federation of Government Employees today said the Pentagon needs to eliminate furloughs entirely.

"AFGE has already demonstrated to the department that furloughs are absolutely unnecessary. The department's leaders have always had the flexibility to impose budget cuts from sequestration in any way they chose. Although reducing the number of furlough days from 22 to 14 shows that they're listening, they still haven't gotten the whole message," AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

"They claim that the military mission is their number one priority, yet they continue to undermine that mission by forcing employees who actually support the warfighter to stay off the job for two full weeks. Meanwhile, the department's vast shadow workforce of service contractors continues to rack up huge profits at the expense of working class civilian employees."

Under the continuing resolution that President Obama signed into law on Tuesday, Congress shifted more than $10 billion in DoD's fiscal 2013 appropriation to operations and maintenance accounts. This additional money put an exclamation mark on AFGE's contention that furloughs are an unnecessary attack on a workforce that has already made an enormous contribution to deficit reduction through three years of frozen pay and higher retirement contributions.

"DoD claimed that furloughing civilian workers for 22 days would save $5 billion. After receiving an additional $10 billion in appropriations, it doesn't take a math whiz to realize that there is no budgetary rationale for furloughing employees for even a single hour," Cox said. "Reportedly, some of the services wanted to eliminate the furloughs entirely but the Pentagon ordered that every employee be subjected to the same 14-day furlough, out of some misguided notion of ensuring uniformity across the department. This makes no sense, since there is no uniformity at all across the government in how departments and agencies deal with the sequestration cuts."

Even though the number of furlough days has been reduced from 22 days to 14, the timeframe in which these unpaid days off will occur has been truncated from six months to four months. This means federal employees subjected to the furlough still will see a 20% pay cut, only now the cut will occur between June and September.

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