Local News

Fort Bragg workers voice frustration over furloughs

Posted June 3, 2013

— Hoping to answer questions and offer support, leaders at Fort Bragg hosted two town-hall meetings Monday to talk to civilian workers who will be hit next month with unpaid furloughs.

The furloughs are part of federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, that were announced over the last few months. More than 1,400 civilian employees at the post, from firefighters to groundskeepers, will be forced to take 11 days off – one day a week for 11 weeks.

The furloughs will last from July 8 to Sept. 30, resulting in a 20-percent reduction in pay.

School teachers at Fort Bragg are mandated to take five unpaid days off.

“We want to get you through where we stand on furloughs,” Col. Jeffrey Sanborn, garrison commander, said to dozens of employees who came to the meeting at the Main Post Theater. “This is going to be a rough time for you. We’re here for you. We’re going to be part of your solution set.”

While many of the employees seem to have moved from disappointment to acceptance over the furloughs, there are plenty of questions.

Kurt Rhodes, lead firefighter for the Fort Bragg Fire Department, figures he'll lose well more than 20 percent of his pay because firefighters will not be allowed to earn overtime during the furlough.

“If it comes out of my built-in overtime, I’m going to lose 33 percent,” Rhodes said, adding that he’s concerned about staffing. “We’re not going to have the manpower that we usually have to respond.”

Most of the furloughed employees will have Fridays off. But Sanborn said emergency workers will have "rolling furloughs" to ensure required minimum staffing.

The fire department, for example, needs at least 52 people on the job at any given time.

For Rhodes, whose wife is also a firefighter at Bragg, the furloughs will cut extra deep.

“We’ll make it,” he said. “We’ll budget it out and make it through and move on.”

Still, there is frustration.

“We are the ones that (are) struggling,” employee Patrick Pickney said. “The United States are the people that (are) actually working hard and trying to make it through…don’t look like nobody’s losing money up there. That’s what’s frustrating to me.”

Mark Doorey, an industrial hygienist at the post, echoed the sentiment.

“I think the most frustrating part is it’s coming down from Congress, and they can’t reach any kind of consensus or agreement with the budget,” he said.

The impact of sequestration won’t end when the furloughs expire. Officials said they will eliminate 41 positions at the post in November.

A third town-hall meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • littleriver69 Jun 5, 2013

    The empathy here is heartwarming."

    Really, and what about the lack of empathy from these whiners who have remained FULLY employed while millions of private sector people were put out of work mainly because of misguided Government policies that led up to the financial meltdown. I did not notice any of them offering to take pay and benefits cuts to help reduce Government borrowing and spending. They have it good and some of them are too stupid to understand they are grinding the private sector into the ground because of their greed.


  • Viewer Jun 4, 2013

    ""When I was in the military, we didn't have butlers and maids. We cleaned our own barracks and did our own laundry. And before you say it--the fire dept. was military, the teachers were military and the doctors and dentists were military. Why are we paying all these civilians to do what we are paying the military to do ??? Oh Yea' we had time to go to WAR too !!

    I remember it well, the Army was filled up with draftees who were not paid in real money. Now soldiers are not drafted and are paid real salaries. Most of the work that does not requires a full fledged warrior is done by civilians, at a lower cost than if a professional soldier did it.

  • Viewer Jun 4, 2013

    These payroll cuts are not a surprise, they have been in the news for months.

  • aightCPA Jun 4, 2013

    I'm no federal government employee hater (I will never work for the public sector b/c they don't promote based on performance but based on who has been there the longest) but Fort Bragg could stand to loss a couple of civilian employees.

  • lovelarvae Jun 4, 2013

    "Obama wanted the sequestration which is causing the furloughs"

    Of course Obama didn't actually "want" it. And is was designed to be so bad that no one would let it happen. But of course the do-nothing congress was incapable of stopping it because they are incompetent. But now, the republicans are the ones that have decided they actually quite like it.

  • markjb33 Jun 4, 2013

    Obama wanted the sequestration which is causing the furloughs, he tanks you for your vote

  • markjb33 Jun 4, 2013

    @free2bme- are you that delusional? The senate is under democratic rule and go along with the president. the house has submitted budget after budget, the senate never even takes them up for a vote.

  • free2bme Jun 4, 2013

    lopo, furloughs have nothing to do with the President's golfing trips or First Lady's vacation. It has everything to do with Congress and their unwillingness to pass anything especially a budget. The President was one of the first to give up some of his pay to help some of his staff. I don't see Congress doing that at all.

  • justme28301 Jun 4, 2013

    Those of you who keep telling them to quit complaining because they at least have a job................you are definately thinking on democratic ways. Why don't YOU take a day off a week without pay? It's easy for you to sit back and let your taxes pay for these sitting on their couches on the front porch day in and day out while they don't HAVE to work. And for the emergency responses............don't get it quick enough or at all, don't complain!!!

  • lovelarvae Jun 4, 2013

    Geez, remember when 'conservatives' used to just love fire fighters after 9/11? I guess not so much anymore, they're just considered government moochers by the right now apparently.