Union Asks Pentagon to Cancel 22-Day Furloughs

The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this week. The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this week. Defense Department

A federal employee union is asking the Pentagon to use its appropriations flexibility from Congress to cancel 22-day furloughs scheduled for most of the department’s civilian workforce.

The Defense Department has to slash $45 billion from its budget in fiscal 2013 under sequestration, and $5 billion of that total is slated to come out of employee salary accounts. The Pentagon has said it probably will have to place on unpaid leave most of its civilian employees for 22 days through Sept. 30 to cut spending under the sequester, although officials now are studying the flexibilities in the fiscal 2013 continuing resolution signed into law on Tuesday to see if they can scale back on the planned furloughs.

The CR shifts more than $10 billion from Defense’s procurement and research and development accounts to the operations and maintenance account, which contains most of the funds for civilian salaries.

“These additional monies are more than enough to put all DoD workers back to work full-time where they belong, and providing the vitally critical support and services that our military women and men depend on,” said the March 27 letter from Gregory Junemann, president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

The department last week said it would delay sending furlough notices until the first week in April, so furloughs would not begin until about May 6. Agencies must notify employees 30 days in advance of a furlough.

While there is no final word on whether the additional flexibilities under the continuing resolution will allow Defense officials to reduce the number of furlough days for affected employees, there is some confidence that will happen, according to a March 21 report from Stars and Stripes.

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