Redstone union leader hopeful furloughs can be averted, reduced - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Redstone union leader hopeful furloughs can be averted, reduced

Redstone Arsenal civilian defense workers began receiving furlough notices this week. Redstone Arsenal civilian defense workers began receiving furlough notices this week.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Redstone Arsenal civilian defense workers began receiving furlough notices this week. More than 15,000 employees connected to Redstone will be affected due to Department of Defense budget cuts dictated by sequestration.

The leader of the American Federation of Government Employees chapter at Redstone said he is hopeful the furloughs can be averted, or at least that the number of days will be reduced.

Currently, the workers would be forced off their jobs on Fridays for 11 weeks. That would effectively cut their income by 20 percent for two-and-a-half months.

"Congress still has time to act. They right now could be making a decision to reduce it down from 11 days to seven days, and eventually down to zero days. That's what I believe is going on right now, even though I don't personally believe we're going to go through a furlough," said AFGE president Abner Merriweather.

Merriweather said other agencies have avoided furloughs.

"Congress has made exceptions to NASA, for example, to reprogram their money so they can make salaries. And they have done so. And the same way with the Department of Agriculture. The same way. And I think since the agency definitely has the salary money to support the to support the employees, to support the workforce, there's no need for furlough," Merriweather said.

The number of furlough days for civilian defense workers has dropped from the original projection of 22 days to 11.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said it is possible the number could be reduced again once the furloughs begin the week of July 8. Hagel also said, however, that eliminating all furlough days would be difficult for the DOD as the department works to fulfill the sequestration-induced budget cuts.

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