The furloughs of thousands of local Department of Defense personnel due to those federal 'sequestration' budget cuts begin today in the San Antonio area, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Some 20,000 civilian personnel are affected by the furloughs. They will have to take one day off without pay each week between now and the end of September, which amounts to 11 unpaid days off.
The furloughs don't affect uniformed active duty personnel, but do affect the Texas National Guard, according to Col. Amy Jones at Camp Mabry in Austin, the headquarters of the Guard.
"I will take a 20% pay cut, but I am not nearly as concerned about myself as I am for those who work for me or under me and who make much smaller salaries," Col. Jones told 1200 WOAI news.
The furloughs are needed to deal with across the board automatic budget cuts which actually took effect on January 1st. The Pentagon has waited until now to implement the furloughs in hopes that Congress would reverse them, but that hasn't happened.
Jones says this is a really bad time for the National Guard to stand down.
"One of the main concerns that we have is we do critical aviation training at this time," she said. "We are also asked to help with fires such as the Bastrop fire that we had the summer before last."
Most local DoD workers have gotten guidance from supervisors on how to distribute the unpaid furlough days in such a way as the offices where they work will not be crippled. While on furlough, workers are not allowed to do any type of work related to their jobs. They are not even allowed to pick up the telephone to return a call from their co-workers.
Furloughed workers are also restricted on jobs they can do during their unpaid days off.
The 'sequestration' budget cuts are expected to double in the fiscal year that begins October First. Due to contract restrictions limiting the number of days civilian workers can be furloughed, there is talk that any future sequestration budget cuts will lead to civilian Defense Department layoffs.
Local civilian DoD workers are taking a 20% pay cut, but the deductions from their paychecks to pay for insurance and other benefits are not being cut, making the pain even more severe.