Defense Department Announces Massive Furloughs, Pay Cuts

In a letter to Congress and civilian employees of the Department of Defense (DoD), Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced 22 days of furloughs for 700,000 of the department’s 800,000 employees if sequestration takes effect March 1st. The result would be a 20 percent pay cut through the remainder of this year for affected employees.

Workers will be notified in writing whether or not they will be furloughed between April 1st and April 25th. As previously outlined, furloughs will begin no earlier than April 26th in accordance with law regarding specific notification periods.

In his letter to employees, Panetta explained that furloughs will be taken one day per week over the course of the 22 remaining pay periods of the year. Employees are not eligible to take annual leave on their furlough days, meaning their biweekly paychecks will be slashed by 20 percent overnight. The cuts affect DoD workers struggling to get by in a tough economy on more than two years of frozen pay.

“This is an absolute outrage,” said NFFE-IAM National President William R. Dougan. “This is exactly the wrong way to go about reducing spending. All this does is hurt employees, their families, and the communities they live in. Congress needs to come back from its weeklong vacation and do their job. We will not back down until this Congressionally-manufactured crisis is defeated.”

As the March 1st deadline for the $85 billion in automatic cuts grows closer, the likelihood of Congress preventing it becomes smaller and smaller. The only way to get Congress to take sequestration seriously is to call them as often as possible. If they don’t hear from voters, they will assume nothing is wrong.

Do your part by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (on your own time, using your own phone) at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to protect the middle class by stopping sequestration.