Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 8, 2013

Grissom employees back at work

Around 600 return to base Monday after shutdown forced furlough.

By Carson Gerber Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE — The around 600 Air Force reservists and other civilian employees at Grissom Air Reserve Base returned to work Monday after spending four days on furlough last week due to the ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Saturday that “most Department of Defense civilians placed on emergency furlough during the government shutdown will be asked to return to work beginning next week.”

After President Barack Obama signed the Pay Our Military Act into law Oct. 1, shortly before the government shutdown began, Hagel said he directed DOD’s Acting General Counsel to determine whether he could reduce the number of civilian personnel furloughed due to the shutdown.

After consulting with attorneys from the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense, Hagel said the Pay our Military Act does not permit a blanket recall of all civilians.

However, he said, DOD and DOJ attorneys concluded the law does allow the DOD to eliminate furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well being, capabilities and readiness of service members.

That ruling allowed the vast majority of all civilian employees at the Department of Defense to return to work Monday.

Roughly half of the 800,000 civilian employees of the defense department were furloughed last week when government funding lapsed.

The Air Force Monday recalled most of the nearly 104,000 Air Force civilian airmen placed on emergency furlough due to the government shutdown.

Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner, the public affairs officer with the 434th ARW, said Monday furloughed employees at Grissom received the news Sunday and were happy to be back at work.

“We are paid by the American people to do a job — an important job — and we’re glad to be back doing the job we’re paid to do,” he said.

Orders-Woempner said workers at Grissom should receive pay from Monday until the shutdown ends once Congress passes a spending bill to fund the government. Whether employees will receive pay for last week’s furlough days remains unclear.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.