Bragg workers tight-lipped about furloughs
Posted March 4, 2013
Fayetteville, N.C. — The pending furloughs that are part of the automatic federal spending cuts that took effect Friday were a big topic of discussion in Fayetteville over the weekend, with thousands of Fort Bragg workers soon to see their weekly pay cut by 20 percent.
On Monday, however, no one wanted to discuss the furloughs publicly.
"You can understand. I mean, no one wants to come on camera and be seen as painting their employer in a negative light," said Greg Taylor, director of the Fort Bragg Regional Alliance.
About 8,500 civilians work on post in jobs ranging from teacher to groundskeeper to hospital janitor. The spending cuts mean that, unless Congress and the White House can reach a budget agreement, each of them will be forced to take an unpaid day off every week from mid-April through the end of September.
In a region so reliant on federal jobs, Taylor said, the trickle-down effect can't be ignored.
"I don't know that anybody's going to go out of business, but you're talking a significant amount of employees that are going to lose 20 percent of their income," he said.
At the Huske Hardware House restaurant in Fayetteville, the furloughs aren't keeping owner Josh Collins up at night. Slowdowns come and go, he said, and need only be reflected in the annual budget.
"We've been here when two-thirds of the military installation is deployed, when all the contractors are deployed, and our business has never seen a downturn," Collins said. "This cut, though it's a 20 percent cut, I think it'll be more psychologically damaging than anything else."
About 5,000 students attend school on Fort Bragg, and the Department of Defense is trying to minimize the impact of furloughs on them, spokeswoman Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde said.
"We are preparing for reduced spending with careful and thoughtful decisions that preserve the ability to provide students a full school year of academic credit and maintain school accreditation standards," Hull-Ryde said in a statement.
Although the students are getting a hard lesson in American governance, Collins said they, like the rest of the region, will survive sequestration.
“We’ve weathered a lot here in Fayetteville," he said. "I don’t think you become the All-American city twice by not being able to weather a couple storms.”