The Washington Times-Herald

June 26, 2013

Furloughs to begin at Crane

By Nate Smith
Washington Times-Herald

CRANE — Starting July 8, employees at Crane will spend one day a week at home on furlough.

Officials confirmed civilian workers at Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane and the Army Ammunition Depot will take one day off a week until September. Currently, there are 3,068 civilian employees for the Navy and 800 for the Army at the installation.

According to a spokesperson for NSWC Crane, the furloughs will result in a 20 percent cut in pay until Sept. 30, when the fiscal year ends. Earlier this month, furlough notices were sent to workers on the Navy side of the base.

A spokesman for Crane Army Ammunition Activity said in a release notices were given this week and continue into next week. The release acknowledged the problems ahead.

“The most important asset in CAAA is its world-class workforce,” the release said. “As we face these difficult times together, rest assured the leadership of CAAA supports our workforce and appreciates their hard work and continued dedication to the mission.

“Despite the furloughs and continuing fiscal concerns, CAAA will continue to support the joint warfighter and the Army mission.”

The furloughs come from federal sequestration measures enacted in 2011. Although Congress tried to delay the furloughs earlier this year, politics prevented any compromise.

The members of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1415 said in a press release the base will be hurt by the furloughs.

“Furloughing at Crane will save no money and will cause the products and services we provide to the military to suffer due to the reduced schedule to meet our mission,” the release said.

The release also said firefighters and police officers will also face furloughs at the base and the Burns City gate will be closed, “causing a major impact to U.S. 231 as vehicles back up at the Crane gate from Loogootee to Bloomfield.”

In March, members of the union protested the coming furloughs and lobbied members of Congress to stop them at Crane. The impact to the local economy is expected to be large as many of the Crane employees live in Daviess and Martin counties.

According to numbers provided by U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly’s office earlier this year, Crane is to be the hardest-hit area in the state of the sequester cuts. The office said $36 million would be hit by the sequester earlier this year, but that was when the cuts were slated for April, not July and there were going to be 22 furlough days, not the 11 actually ordered.

Across the country, the furloughs will add to $1.8 billion in savings, according to the Pentagon. But some good news is coming for the base as it will not be part of a plan by the Navy Installations Command to reduce 745 jobs by 2014. According to the base, there are no plans for any reductions in force.

Crane is the third-largest Naval base in the country in terms of size. According to the base, it is the third largest employer in southwest Indiana.