2,000 S.C. defense workers return to work

jself@thestate.comOctober 7, 2013 

  • S.C. defense employees back at work U.S. Department of Defense employees returned to work this week, thanks to a recently adopted federal law granting pay and benefits to Defense workers during the federal government shutdown. Returning to work were:

    690: S.C. Army Guard technicians at National Guard armories throughout the state

    290: Civilian employees at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter

    290: Civilian employees at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot Parris Island

    230: Marine Corps Community Services employees at the Air Station and Parris Island

    177: Civilian employees at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

    100: S.C. Air Guard technicians at McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover

    Many of the approximately 8,500 civilian defense workers at Joint Base Charleston and Columbia’s Fort Jackson were furloughed last week. However, the number of workers returning to work this week was not available Monday.

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Almost 2,000 civilian workers at South Carolina’s military bases returned to work Monday.

The workers had been furloughed and sent home without pay last week by the still-ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government.

“It’s is very good to be back at work,” said Maj. Cindi King with the S.C. National Guard, which had about 800 employees on furlough last week. “All of us are honored to serve the state of South Carolina and our nation. It’s why we put on the uniform and answered the call to serve.”

The shutdown, which required federal employees deemed nonessential to go on furlough, started last Tuesday after the U.S. Congress failed to agree on a spending plan.

Thousands of civilian defense employees across South Carolina were sent home. But many returned to work Monday after Congress passed a bill, signed by the president, that continues pay and benefits for many in the military and Defense Department during the shutdown.

Over the weekend, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called back 400,000 furloughed civilian Defense Department employees whose jobs contribute to the “morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.”

All but seven of 800 furloughed S.C. National Guard members returned to work Monday, King said. The seven still furloughed are categorized as “auditors.”

Employees working in health care, family support, weapons repair and maintenance, training, payroll and other areas returned to work, King said.

The number of Guard members who were furloughed last week was lower than first expected, King said. Furloughs impacted 690 U.S. Army Guard and about 100 U.S. Air Guard members. The S.C. Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing was exempt from the furlough because it is preparing for an upcoming deployment.

The 290 civilian workers at Shaw Air Force Base who were furloughed last week also returned to work this week, said 2nd Lt. Earon Brown, a Shaw spokesman.

Of the 291 civilian Defense Department employees at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, 290 were asked to return to work Monday, said Staff Sgt. Greg Thomas, a Marine spokesman.

By Tuesday, 177 of 1,200 civilian employees furloughed last week from the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort were to report back to work. An additional 230 Marine Corps Community Services employees were called back to work at either the air station or the Parris Island recruiting depot, according to a news release.

“All MCAS Beaufort employees perform work that is essential to the long-term strength of the air station,” Col. Brian Murtha, the air station’s commanding officer, said in a news release. “I am glad they have returned to helping defend this nation and securing our future.”

Some of the 5,000 civilians working at the Joint Base Charleston returned to work Monday, the (Charleston) Post and Courier reported. A spokesman at the base said Monday specific numbers were unavailable.

Personnel at Columbia’s Fort Jackson, where 3,500 civilians work and were subject to furlough, did not return phone calls Monday.

Reach Self at (803)771-8658

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