Threatened furloughs or layoffs of civilian workers at Hill Air Force Base are a dead issue, Rep. Jim Hansen said Friday during a news conference at the base.
Hansen said a defense authorization bill now pending before the U.S. Senate restores the authority to the Air Force to switch funds from program to program. The bill does not increase funding, the Utah Republican congressman emphasized.The Air Force Logistics Command announced last fall that with appropriations slashed, it would lay off civilian workers at bases across the United States for up to 10 days to meet its budget.
Several thousand Hill workers were affected by the announcement, and local government leaders became anxious over the possible repercussions on the economy, with HAFB being the largest single employer in the state.
Several months later, Hansen and Air Force officials announced the temporary furloughs were reduced from 10 days to four and would be in June instead of April. The number of days was eventually reduced to two, and now none.
Although the appropriations bill has not passed the Senate yet, Hansen said it's a "99.9 percent certainty, or I wouldn't be out here today telling you. It's a given." He predicted its passage by Tuesday or Wednesday.
Congress made a mistake several years ago by taking away the authority of the armed forces to switch funds from one program to another, Hansen said.
Bill Scholl, president of the local government employees union at the base, also attended the press conference and said removing the threat of forced layoffs will improve the morale of the workers at Hill.
"We're happy to hear it," said Scholl. "It's just like getting another payday." He estimated the furloughs could have cost individual workers up to $400.
Scholl said there is another, unresolved funding problem at the base that has resulted in about on-call, or temporary, workers that have been laid off for six months.