Ft. Bragg civilian workers will be furloughed - WNCN: News, Weather

Ft. Bragg civilian workers will be furloughed

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FORT BRAGG, N.C. -

Thousands of civilian employees at Fort Bragg have been put on notice that they will have to take furlough days to save the Department of Defense money during automatic federal spending cuts.

The furloughs could affect approximately 5,000 civilian employees. 1,400 would be employees with the U.S. Army Garrison. Those employees fill roles similar to any city's employees. They are Fort Bragg's public works employees who work on utilities or grounds maintenance, or operate residential services, or dig pipelines. Firefighters are also garrison employees. So the garrison hosted two town hall meetings Monday to answer questions about the furloughs.

The first meeting at 9:30 a.m. was well attended. Employees got confirmation that they would have to take 11 furlough days. That results in a 20 percent reduction in base and locality pay through the end of the fiscal year.

"It's scary," commented Kurt Rhodes who is a Fort Bragg firefighter. His wife is also a civilian employee at Womack Army Medical Center. She will also lose 20 percent of her income during the furlough period.

"We've planned for it. We'll make it," Rhodes said tentatively.

He is really concerned though about other workers who have special financial burdens.

"They're not worried about making the rent payment, the electricity payment. It's that special medicine they need for their kids, that 'where am I going to get this from?'"

Tiffany Lawson certainly is worried. She already works an alternative schedule, and she worries the furloughs will put an end to that and create a financial strain.

"I have kids in school. I have a son going to college. So it hurts. It really does," Lawson said. "Financially I put money to the side preparing for this, but you can never really prepare for 20 percent less pay. I have money to the side, but I don't know how far it's going to carry me with my son starting college this fall."

Nonetheless, she found some comfort in promises to help workers deal with the furloughs.

"Let us know how you're challenged. Let us do our jobs as leaders to try to find ways to help you," garrison commander Colonel Jeffrey Sanborn told the employees attending the town hall meeting.

For example, Sanborn said leaders on post are already working with businesses in Fayetteville in an effort to give furloughed employees preference for part-time jobs. It could help ends meet, but like so many details, it is still a work in progress.

The civilian furloughs must be scheduled between July 8 and September 30.

Another question and answer sessions will be held Tuesday from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. The session will be at the Main Post Theater on the corner of Reilly and Macomb Streets.

On Thursday, the Garrison civilian workforce began receiving the notices for proposed furloughs.

"These written notices are the first step in the formal furlough process," said Tom McCollum, Fort Bragg Garrison Public Affairs Officer. "All written notices must be given to our employees by Tuesday evening."

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced May 14 that most Defense Department civilian employees would be furloughed.

Fort Bragg officials are encouraging employees to seek help from leaders if they need it.

During the town hall meeting, Sanborn also released details about an upcoming reduction in force coming this fall. 41 jobs will be eliminated Sanborn said. The jobs are surplus jobs, but Sanborn was not specific about which jobs would be cut.

Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

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