Furloughs could hit MacDill civilians
TAMPA - Thousands of civilians working at MacDill Air Force Base could lose about 20 days of pay through the end of the year if Congress and the White House don’t reach a deal on the national debt by March 1. The Department of Defense says the triggering of automatic, half-trillion dollar cuts approved by Congress would force about 80 percent of the department’s 800,000 civilian employees to take 22 unpaid days off between April and September, the end of this fiscal year, for a savings of about $5 billion. There are about 3,180 civilian employees at MacDill, according to the 6th Air Mobility Wing, the base host unit. Officials with the various commands at MacDill — including U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, the 6th Air Mobility Wing and the 927th Air Refueling Wing — have not been given specific orders about how many civilian employees will be forced to take furloughs.Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta issued a statement Wednesday saying he notified Congress that the furloughs could occur under the automatic cuts, called sequestration. “I can assure you that, if we have to implement furloughs, all affected employees will be provided at least 30 days’ notice prior to executing a furlough, and your benefits will be protected to the maximum extent possible,” Panetta said. “We also will work to ensure that furloughs are executed in a consistent and appropriate manner, and we will also continue to engage in discussions with employee unions as appropriate.” The Pentagon on Wednesday informed the staff of U.S. Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young, the Indian Rocks Republican, that the earliest furlough notices would go out is “on or about April 26.” No estimate of civilian personnel was available from Special Operations Command. Centcom has about 900 civilian employees who could be affected, said Lt. Col. T.G. Taylor, a command spokesman. At the 927th Air Refueling Wing, the furloughs would apply to some of the 18 civilians and 145 air reserve technicians who are civilian employees.