Saying the Department of Defense was able to shuffle some budgets, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced Tuesday a reduction in the forced furloughs for civilian defense workers, including those at Duluth's 148th Fighter Wing.
Workers have been forced to take one day off a week without pay since early July. The original plan was for the workers to take 11 furlough days. Now that number has been reduced to six, Hagel announced, meaning those at the 148th will be done with furloughs by
The furloughs meant a 20 percent pay cut during the past three weeks for 241 staff membrs at the 148th. Under the revised plan, they will need to take a day off this week and the next two weeks instead of into September.
Duluth's 148th Fighter Wing has about 1,000 members, including the 241 federal technicians, and an annual economic impact of $80.9 million.
About 650,000 civilian employees across the country were under the furlough policy. Hagel said it was made necessary by $37 billion in defense cuts under Washington's budget sequestration measures. He said the department faced an
$11 billion hole.
"Congress has approved most of a large reprogramming request that we submitted, giving us the flexibility to move funds across accounts," Hagel said in a memo. "The military services have been aggressive in identifying ways to hold down costs, and we have been successful in shifting savings."
Hagel said in May that he would work to reduce the number of unpaid days off. The department before that had imposed a hiring freeze, cut facility maintenance and laid off temporary employees before making the furlough decision.
The budget for fiscal year 2014 remains undefined, Hagel said.
The Pentagon estimated the 11-day furloughs would save $1.8 billion. The 11 days were down from the 14 that the Pentagon had warned would be needed, and half of the 22 days originally forecast.