Arsenal workers will appeal furloughs

"I believe there are going to be hundreds of appeals just from Local 15," said Mary DeSmet, vice president.

Unions say up to 6,000 workers at the Arsenal are being required to take 11 unpaid days off through September as a result of the automatic spending cutbacks known as the sequester.

Ms. DeSmet said workers at the Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center will challenge their furloughs because their positions are funded through Army working capital funds. Money for the funds comes from weapons sales and other areas, rather than direct congressional appropriations.

Appeals also are likely from members of other unions on the Arsenal, Ms. DeSmet said. The appeals will seek to cancel the furloughs and win back pay if the worker has already taken unpaid days off.

Members of the AFGE across the country are being actively encouraged to appeal their furloughs by the union's leadership, although it's not clear if the appeals will be successful.

Ms. DeSmet said workers have 30 days after they've been "harmed" to file an appeal to theMerit Systems Protection Board. Arsenal workers began taking furloughs from July 8.

The MeritSystems Protection Board reviews complaints from federal employees, usually from workers who say they were unfairly demoted or fired, and sometimes from whistle blowers.

But since furloughs were introduced as a result of the sequester the MSPB has been inundated with appeals.

"Our workload is up over 100 per cent," said MSPB spokesman William Spencer.

The MSPB has received 8,857 appeals since July 1, after which furloughs for federal workers began. The agency does not keep statistics on appeals from individual facilities like the Arsenal.

Mr. Spencer said 4,647 of were docketed furlough appeals and the remaining 4,587 were undocketed appeals that most likely also are furlough related.

Close to 90 percent of the appeals are from Department of Defense employees, he said.Only 377 appeals had been filed for the fiscal year up to July 1.

More than 650,000 Department of Defense employees are being furloughed as part of the sequester to save the Pentagon $1.8 billion.

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