Civilian furloughs of Dept. of Defense workers are expected to hit Alabama hard

MGN Online
MGN Online

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – The Anniston Army Depot is one of the locations that may see a concentration of civilian furloughs.

The local impact of sequestration will affect thousands of civilian Department of Defense employees in Alabama at places like the Anniston Army Depot. The repercussions from the cuts will stretch far beyond the facility.

Workers at the Anniston Army Depot overhaul and repair tanks and other combat vehicles, artillery, and small arms for  the U.S.  military.

Vice President of the Local 1945 American Federation of Government Employees, Charles Barclay, says the civilian DoD workers  have their work cut out for them. He says they have plenty of orders to fill, but now they will have fewer days to complete them all.

“Tanks, armored tanks, is common knowledge so those are the most important parts of, of supporting the war fighter and it’s like a 24/7 thing same as the warfighter. What we can’t believe is that our congress, our DoD, and our President doesn’t understand that we are the pit stop for the Army here at Anniston Army Depot and we shouldn’t be furloughed,” said  Barclay.

The unpaid leave could cause production delays that impact U.S. military service members engaged in war- in places like Afghanistan.

Barclay says it also means 20% less money for civilians working at the Anniston Army Depot.

“Maybe two to four hundred dollars a pay period for every employee and that’s a lot,” said Barclay.

The economic impact won’t stop at the gates of the Anniston Army Depot. The surrounding business community depends on the workers there.  One man  who was planning to open up a food truck is now just going to sell it.
He’s located on the main access road to the depot and has steadily watched worker traffic decline. His business has downsized along with the depot.

“I got a boutique over there where I sell purses and wallets and jewelry for men and women and I had a barbershop and I was opening up a food concession stand right here,” said Travis J Westbrook, Owner of J&C Plaza. “I’m just going to try to sell it. You know it’s really not any use to try to invest in it anymore with the depot steady declining like it is, you know it’s just not worth taking the chance. “

We relayed three questions about the furloughs to the Anniston Army Depot Commander, Colonel Brent Bolander.  Our questions and Col. Colander’s responses are listed below.

What is the primary mission of the depot?

“Anniston Army Depot overhauls and repairs all heavy and light combat vehicles , wheeled and tracked (except for the Bradley and MLRS), towed and self-propelled artillery, assault bridging systems, and  small arms (9mm Pistol to 120mm Mortar) for America’s defense forces and her allies.”

Will production be impacted by the furloughs?

“Our mission is to support the war fighter, but our production may move to the right.  If requirements warrant overhaul or repair of a certain number of items, those items may not be repaired/completed on schedule due to one less day in the workweek.   Thus requiring us to push the requirement to the next week.”

What does it mean to the depot workers and the military overseas?

“Anniston Army Depot employees are responsible for the success of its mission.  We’ve communicated the message regarding the proposed furlough for months, via internal newscasts, the depot leadership, the installation newspaper, and town hall meetings.   Proposed furlough notices have been issued to depot employees, based upon Department of Defense guidance.  Anticipated furlough days will begin July 12 and will encompass up to 11 discontinuous days.”

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