Arsenal Final Furlough Day

August  15, 2013

     Friday thousands of workers in the Quad Cities will take one more unpaid day off from work. It will be the 6th and last furlough day for civilian employees on Arsenal Island. 

     Karen Montague is vice president of Local 15 of the American Federation of Government Employees union, and works for the Joint Munitions Command. She says the 20 per cent pay cut caused by the furloughs has resulted in serious problems for some employees, who've lost cars and homes. It's even been hard for some high-paid workers, such as a man she knows who recently got divorced.

     "After he takes his 20% off because of the furloughs, and pays his child support and alimony, which will not get adjusted, he only has $1,100 a month to live on which is poverty level."

     When sequestration began back in March, the automatic federal spending cuts, the Defense Department said workers might have to take 22 furlough days through the end of September. Then the number was cut to 11, and than last week to just 6. 

     "They've threatened us with furloughs many times in the past, and they've never actually furloughed us and stopped paying us. So it was sort of a bittersweet celebration."

     Montague will be furloughed Friday, then next week try to catch up on the work she's had to postpone - for her job at JMC and for the union. She's also one of thousands of federal workers who've filed appeals with the Merit Systems Protection Board, hoping to get their lost wages from the six days.