Local News

Defense furloughs start today for thousands at JBLM

SEATTLE — They have been dreaded for months, and now they’re here.  Defense furloughs started this week for thousands across Washington.  And Friday, they are going to hit the biggest installation of all, Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

jblmThese forced days-off amount to a 20% salary cut that hits families at an extremely tough time.  They are part of the federal sequestration that took effect earlier this year when Democrats and Republicans couldn’t agree on a budget plan.

The unpaid furlough days are for civilian military employees only, but because they provide crucial support roles, having them gone one day a week is going to be very hard on those in uniform.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., went on the floor of the Senate to express frustration that these big cuts couldn’t be averted.

“The furloughs are going to hurt our soldiers,” Murray said. “They are going to limit their access to medical care. They are going to cut back on the family support programs. And they are going to make it tougher to find a job when they finish their military careers.”

Thousands are going to be affected in bases such as Fairchild over in Eastern Washington and the Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island.  But by far, the biggest effects are at the state’s biggest base, JBLM.

JBLM Furlough Highlights:

  • 6,700 civilian employees won’t be coming to work Friday
  • This includes:  aircraft trainers and mechanics, doctors, military support
  • Every Friday from now until Sept. 30.
  • It amounts to a 20% pay cut

These forced pay cuts add up to tens of millions of dollars in lost wages to thousands of military support families.  That’s going to be hard on them and on local companies that depend on JBLM business.

If Congress does not come up with a new budget plan, another round of furloughs are expected after the start of the new fiscal year, Oct. 1.

These cuts are on top of a planned troop reduction of 5,000 at JBLM over the next few years because of the end of the Iraq war and the wind-down of the war in Afghanistan.

VIEW & ADD COMMENTS

5 Comments to “Defense furloughs start today for thousands at JBLM”

    what ever said:
    July 11, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    welcome home this is what you were fighting for………………not what you thought it was when you signed up is it……….

    BILL K. said:
    July 12, 2013 at 1:14 AM

    GOOD ! THEY OTTA CUT ALL JBLM fUNDING ! THATS THE SAME BASE THAT THAT **********ER THAT KILLED TEN CHILDREN 2GRANDPARENTS AND A MOM WHILE THEY WERE ASLEEP IN BED ! ITS NO WONDER THE ENTIRE PLANET HATES USA. ITS BECAUSE OF THESE CHILD KILLING **********ERS

    Matt said:
    July 12, 2013 at 4:57 AM

    Dude needs to calm down.
    The furlough will actually cut more than 20% from them. As a defense employee I was getting 22% cut from my monthly gross check and knew people who had 35% cut. Not very fair for us and I hope that they are okay. The economy of Tacoma and that area is going to suffer.

    Skip said:
    July 12, 2013 at 7:53 AM

    We've been in a recession for years and have learned to work around it. The money isn't easy to make up, but a day off can be creative in many ways.

    francis furlough said:
    July 12, 2013 at 9:22 AM

    JBLM isn't the only Federal Agency being affected by the sequestration and furloughs beginning today. Every DOD federal agency has begun furloughing today as well. Our citizens love to bash federal employees, but we are civil servants who are paid less than state, county and city employees, who have had benefits taken away or slashed consistently for 10 years and who haven't received cost of living increases for 4 years. I'm not asking for sympathy or favor, I'm simply trying to point out that an additional 20 percent cut for those who are already barely able to maintain will ultimately impact all of our country. And I would bet my next furlough paycheck that if our lawmakers were facing being furloughed, this problem would have been solved months ago.

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