Civilian workers at Hill Air Force Base threatened with furloughs or layoffs because of defense budget cuts were given another reprieve Wednesday afternoon.
Gen. Alfred G. Hansen, commander of the Air Force Logistics Command at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, announced furloughs and layoffs scheduled for June have been pushed back again, this time until at least Aug. 1.Plans were announced in December by the AFLC to furlough its 82,500 civilian employees worldwide for up to 10 days to make up for cuts in its operating budget. Some 13,800 workers at Hill are affected.
In addition, the AFLC said in December the remainder of its 258 on-call, or temporary, employees at Hill would also be laid off. Hill laid off 126 on-call workers last year and early this year and said the other 132 would be released in March, citing budget cuts and a decreased workload with the phasing out of the F-4 Phantom fighter jet.
Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, said the service, reacting to a bill he has co-sponsored to direct the Defense Department to re-program enough money to avoid the layoffs, has put off any furlough action until after Aug. 1.
"We're winning this an inch at a time," Rep. Hansen said.
According to an AFLC spokesman, "Gen. Hansen again underscored his concern for the welfare and stability of the work force and personally expressed his commitment to union officials."
The general, according to the spokesman, "felt this decision to delay could be made based upon his continued confidence that additional funds will be made available to alleviate the need for a furlough.
"The general stressed once again that he recognizes the potential financial risk in taking the action to retain the on-call and temporary employees for additional weeks since additional dollars have not actually been identified" that can be transferred into the AFLC civilian pay account to cover the salaries.
"Nevertheless, he feels the risk is still justified and is a key element to bringing greater stability to the AFLC workforce while Congress continues its deliberations," the AFLC statement said.
In addition to pushing the furloughs back, the general has indicated they would be reduced from 10 to four, spread out through pay periods in August and September.
Spokesman Jay Joersz at the Hill AFLC said in addition to deferring more layoffs and furloughs, the center is looking to bring the 126 on-call workers laid off earlier back when Hill begins doing maintenance work on the Air Force's C-130 cargo fleet, probably in October.
The general also announced that management and union officials negotiating the furlough proposal at Wright-Patterson have agreed to delay asking for a mediator from the Federal Services Impasse Panel to resolve their deadlock.
Negotiators for the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents the civilian workers, made a proposal to let the more than 80,000 workers trade unpaid furlough days to help their fellow workers facing a layoff.
But Air Force officials said the proposal is still too costly and the two sides, facing deadlock, declared the talks at an impasse and had asked for a federal mediator.