Defense department cuts back on number of furlough days for civilian employees

EL PASO, Texas - The Defense Department announced Thursday it's cutting the number of furlough days for civilian employees from 22 to 14, somewhat softening the blow from the automatic budget cuts.

"The civilian workforce is critical to our capabilities here at Fort Bliss," said Major Joe Bucinno, Fort Bliss Public Affairs Officer. "We'll see less an impact I think all around our facilities, but also it lessens the impact for civilians. It's still a tough blow."

Buccino says the furloughs will now start in June instead of April. Fort Bliss is also making financial readiness counselors and other assets available to those affected.

"This gives our civilian employees a little bit more time to potentially save up some money so that they don't renege on any of their financial obligations during the furlough period," Buccino said.

Fourteen furlough days instead of 22 furlough days is good news but not great news for Team Bliss' civilian employees. The post must still deal with less productivity and those employees must deal with about three weeks less pay than last year.

"For some people it's their only source of income," said Daniela Dale, a civilian employee who works in the Human Resources Department at Fort Bliss. "I feel better, a little better about it. It comes at a most unpopular time for our family."

Other employees think the cutback in furlough days will help morale.

"I think if it's coming back to 14 it's going to up the morale of a lot of people," said Aamber Alderson, another civilian Fort Bliss employee. "It's a lot better because nobody wants that much time off unless you're intentionally putting in for a vacation. I think it's good news but definitely could improve a lot more. We don't need anymore bad news."

Buccino said despite the fact furloughs are still a reality, Fort Bliss should be able to maintain its facilities and workload by using uniformed personnel where necessary.

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