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Vandenberg AFB Civilians Back on the Job

By Victoria Sanchez, KEYT NewsChannel 3 Anchor/Reporter, victoriasanchez@keyt.com
Published On: Oct 01 2013 01:37:12 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 07 2013 08:44:52 PM CDT

Vandenberg AFB Civilians Back on the Job

VANDENBERG AFB, Calif. -

Many of the furloughed civilian federal employees who work for the Department of Defense returned to work Monday after nearly four full days off the job.

Last Tuesday, around 900 Vandenberg Air Force Base civilian workers were forced to take emergency, no-notice furloughs.

"It's very frustrating because you can't do your job when you don't know what the budget's going to be," said Greg Jenkins.

After 20 years in the Air Force, Jenkins retired as a lieutenant colonel. During his time at Vandenberg Air Force Base, he worked side by side with civilians. He said he didn't like to see them go on furlough because of the partial government shutdown.

"Congress do your job. The little guys down here are doing their job trying to make this country better. You need to do your job," he said.

"I think it's all a farce. We all knew they were coming back. We all knew that they were going to be paid for when they were gone. It's just a farce," said Steve Dietrich, outside a strip mall in Vandenberg Village.

Retired Master Sgt. Paul Gray said he was glad to hear the workers returned. Because when the civilians are gone, there's still work to do.

"Well the G.I.'s have to pick up the load. They'll be working a lot of overtime," he said.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Pay Our Military Act allowed him to eliminate furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to morale, well-being and readiness of service members.

In a statement released by Vandenberg, the 30th Space Wing commander said he was glad the employees were back.

"Unfortunately, the return of our civilians does not necessarily mean we are back to business as usual. Without a approved budget, we are limited in how we spend out resources. And depending on how long with budget uncertainty will last, we may have to take additional steps in respects to our personnel or operations here on base," said Col. Keith Balts.

The civilians on furlough will get back pay for their days off, but they could still feel the financial pinch.

"Most everybody, maybe Congress doesn't, lives on a budget and when you don't get that immediate pay, now you've got to put things on hold," said Jenkins.

The facilities that were closed on base are back open, including the commissary, library and base training. Some facilities will have limited service hours until the government is back up and running again.

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