For the 10,000-plus civilian workers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, 22 unpaid days â€” 176 hours â€” of Friday furloughs from April through this September aren’t proving to be easy.
Those employees, who effectively are having to cope with a 20 percent pay cut during this time, are dealing with slashing their personal and family budgets by that amount in this still-stalled economy.
The ripple effects are also washing up against the businesses in the communities in which they work and reside â€” as well as within the agencies for which they are employed.
“Although I can structure a varying schedule of who works when, and which days the furlough will be for each staff member,” said an upper-level Madigan Army Medical Center professional who wished not to be named, “it still leaves us with a skeleton crew. The upshot is that we’re all working a lot harder, and a lot more (unpaid) hours to make up for those on furlough so that we can still provide the same level of care.”
Although “excepted” employees â€” those whose job is to maintain the “life, health, or safety of individuals,” and those deployed â€” are protected from furlough, the lack of support staff has nevertheless hit hard with health care patients there, among others.
To counter this frustration, though, JBLM spokesman Joe Piek said in a statement prior to action, “Our priority during this time of fiscal uncertainty continues to be to provide Service members and their families with the best possible facilities and services to both live and work, understanding that there will be reduced services, longer wait times, and fewer personnel available to provide necessary services due to the furlough.”