WASHINGTON – American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. is expressing his disappointment at Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for rejecting a bipartisan call from lawmakers to end the arbitrary furlough of civilian employees.
In an April 30 letter to Secretary Hagel, President Cox said he was “surprised and disappointed” that Hagel continues to insist that nearly all DoD civilian employees be furloughed across the board, even though some components are able to absorb the budget cuts required under sequestration without furloughing employees.
“Such an arbitrary approach neither promotes national security nor fairness,” Cox wrote.
On April 24, 126 House members from both parties sent a letter to Hagel, urging him to review the Pentagon’s plans to furlough nearly every civilian employee for 14 days, systematically fire temporary and term employees, and freeze new employee hiring.
In the letter, the lawmakers highlighted the injustice of applying civilian furloughs equally across all of the services and Defense agencies, since some components say they can avoid furloughs by making offsetting cuts in other areas or generate their own revenue.
But Hagel’s written response indicated that there is no plan to alter the Pentagon’s one-size-fits-all approach. “In reallocating resources throughout the Department to the highest national security priorities, we will strive for consistency and fairness across the Department,” Hagel wrote on April 26.
In his letter, Cox noted that furloughs will increase costs, reduce productivity, and undermine readiness.
“Components and agencies should clearly not be forced to take the same number of furlough days. If components or agencies have come up with offsetting sequestration cuts or generate their own revenues, they should not be required to impose furloughs. That’s not a radical proposition. Rather, that’s competent leadership,” Cox wrote.
A copy of the letter is available at http://bit.ly/14QbLxU.