Defense worker: 'On furlough — back Tuesday'
WASHINGTON — Civilian Defense workers across the United States began taking unpaid leave on Monday in a Pentagon-imposed austerity move expected to save $1.8 billion through Sept. 30 by effectively cutting the pay of about 650,000 workers by nearly 20 percent.
Defense officials said they could not say exactly how many people took a day of unpaid leave because those decisions are handled locally at workplaces across the country. But absences were evident at the Pentagon.
“Sorry, we're on furlough — back Tuesday,” said a sign taped to one computer.
The move, criticized by some lawmakers and unions, was one of the most visible effects of the nearly $37 billion in automatic across-the-board budget cuts imposed on the Pentagon this year to try to curb the government's nearly $1 trillion deficit.
The military has postponed maintenance, curtailed training, canceled deployments and taken other steps to slash spending.
The cuts were imposed when Congress and the Obama administration failed to reach a compromise on alternative ways to reduce outlays.
Defense officials said about 85 percent of the 770,000 civilian employees eligible for furlough would begin taking two days of unpaid leave per two-week pay period beginning this week and continuing through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. That amounts to about a day per week for 11 weeks.
“I myself will be furloughed two days this pay period, which starts today,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said.
He said the furloughs were expected to reduce Pentagon spending by $1.8 billion through the end of the fiscal year.
Rep. Sean Maloney of New York said the cuts were the result of “dumb decisions” by the last Congress. He said the furloughs would affect about 1,000 families at the military academy at West Point in New York, slashing an average of $4,000 in wages per affected employee between now and Sept. 30.
“That's a big cut in anybody's pay, particularly over such a short period,” Maloney told a conference call.
“It represents an 18-percent reduction in that pay, and this will be a direct impact on families themselves but also the communities that depend on the wages of these employees for their own small businesses and local economies,” he said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Scientists hope tiny robotic bee’s big dreams take flight
- Don’t eat tuna, Consumer Reports tells mothers-to-be
- GPS stations show drought-stricken California — not pushed downward by 63 trillion gallons of water — is rising
- $132.5M ransom asked for Foley
- EPA cites risks from air toxics in urban areas, improvements
- $1T cost to sustain fighter jet in cross hairs
- States can apply for more time before using student scores to evaluate teachers
- California attorney general to appeal ruling on death penalty
- Utah woman gets 5 years in baby sitter’s overdose death
- Police say couple wanted Amish girls for slaves
- Fla. ban on gay marriage upended