More than 900 employees at the Corpus Christi Army Depot who were furloughed without pay for six days last summer due to sequestration will have their case heard by the Merit Systems Protection Board.
The employees are being represented by AFGE Local 2142, which has appealed the furloughs on the grounds that they did not promote the efficiency of the service.
All of the furloughed employees are working capital fund employees, meaning their salaries are paid from revenue generated by the work that they do. The temporary layoff prevented these employees from doing their jobs, which resulted in lost income for the Corpus Christi Army Depot, Local 2142 Chief Steward Kenneth Weeks said.
The furlough also cost the depot additional money from overtime paid to employees before and after the furlough to make up work that wasn’t accomplished when the employees were forced to stay home, Weeks said.
The MSPB hearing is scheduled to begin the morning of Aug. 7 and conclude the following day. Weeks said the local has been fighting with management to allow employees to attend the hearing. Management has contended that allowing all 900 employees to skip work would cause an undue burden on the agency – which is precisely the argument that the union has made regarding the furloughs.
“They’re making our argument for us. The six-day furlough caused an undue burden,” Weeks said.
Weeks said the depot has become more efficient in the past few years and currently returns 30 percent of its costs back to the customer. Before enforcing the furlough, Weeks said the depot should have considered other options for saving money. For instance, repairing and reusing helicopter blades instead of producing new ones would save upwards of $150 million a year, yet that option was never considered, Weeks said.
Weeks said he expects a ruling by the administrative judge within 65 days.