By Nate Smith Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — CRANE — Workers at the Crane base are hopeful their furlough days may be cut by as much as five days according to a news report from Washington, D.C.
The Associated Press reported Monday the Defense Department is considering eliminating up to five furlough days from the 11 planned for civilian workers at Crane and across the country. Crane workers are currently in their fourth week of furlough, taking every Friday off until the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.
The AP report said Defense department officials are working budget numbers to save an estimated $900 million while reducing furlough days. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity and said no final decisions have been made.
Public affairs officials at Crane echoed that line Tuesday, saying no official word has been given from the defense department.
“The only thing we’ve seen is the news reports,” Tom Peske, public affairs officer for Crane Army Ammunition Activity said. “Other than that, we have not seen anything officially.”
A public affairs officer at NSWC Crane also said any reductions in the number of days is just speculation. On Facebook, links were posted to the AP story by CAA, but cautioned no official decision has been made.
The AP quoted one defense official that said if the Pentagon can find $500 million in savings, furlough days will be cut to eight days. If $900 million can be found, workers only have six furlough days, meaning only two more days for Crane workers.
Due to the sequestration deal created by Congress, defense officials had to cut $37 billion in the budget for this fiscal year and created the furloughs to move funds to high-priority items. Officials warned the AP the Pentagon faces a $52 billion budget cut in 2014 if Congress does not act.
In the past year, Naval Support Activity Crane had to, according to the local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees, cut 28 positions. Many of those positions were police and fire services. It is not known how Crane would be affected by any budget cuts that will come in 2014 and beyond.
A decision on the days is not expected this week, the AP said.
In furlough-related news, Naval Support Activity Crane released on its Facebook page Tuesday the Burns City gate, closed during the furlough, will open for limited hours “accommodate furlough-related production work adjacent to the Burns City gate.”