By DAVE GYMBURCH Staff writer
Federal civilian employees who had been furloughed last week were back on the job today at the Rome Air Force Research Laboratory and the Eastern Air Defense Sector, both at Griffiss park.
Included are 96 staffers at the AFRL Information Directorate and about 26 at EADS, who had been idled since Tuesday last week due to the federal government partial shutdown that is linked to a budget impasse in Congress.
The employees returned after the Pentagon said over the weekend that most of its 350,000 furloughed civilian workers would be called back. The decision was based on an interpretation of a bill passed by Congress last week that ensures no paycheck delays for uniformed military, but also includes broad language exempting Defense Department civilians from furlough if they provide direct support to the military, said a Washington Post report.
As of today, "all furloughed employees of Rome Laboratory were recalled from furlough," according to a statement from Daryl Mayer, spokesman at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio where the overall AFRL has headquarters. The 96 personnel...that were impacted by the furlough were notified and have returned to normal operating status," he said. The Rome lab overall has about 660 civilian and 45 military staffers.
At EADS, "everyone has been called back" from the three-and-half-day furloughs that were from mid-day Tuesday through Friday last week, spokesman Tim Jones said this morning. The furloughs had not affected about nine civilian employees who work in civil engineering. Most of the facility’s approximately 400 staffers are U.S. military personnel and were not subject to furloughs.
The EADS employees who were furloughed do not yet know whether they would be paid for the three-plus days that the idling was in effect, said Jones.
The GOP-run House of Representatives passed a bill Saturday that would ensure the furloughed workers get paid. The White House backs the bill and the Senate also was expected to okay it, but the timing was unclear, said the Associated Press.
Local Rep. Richard Hanna voted in favor of the bill, called the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act. Hanna, R-22, Barneveld, said in a statement "there are hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers nationwide and some right in our community who work to keep our nation safe....It isn’t fair for employees to be involuntarily furloughed and lose pay because of Washington’s inability to approve a spending plan. I commend my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the House for approving this commonsense measure, and I urge the Senate to quickly send this bill to the President’s desk."
Among local sites still affected by the shutdown is Fort Stanwix National Monument, which remained closed this morning. It is a National Park Service site, operated separately from Pentagon facilities.