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Barlow: Most Back to Work at Wright-Patterson
WPAFB -- While Monday marked day seven for the government shutdown, for civil service employees at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base it was day one back to work.
The shutdown continues but legislation to pay for military personnel and civilian contractors has allowed the base to recall nearly all the 8,700 workers who had been sent home without checks, and even some employees who remained on the job without checks.
Col. Cassie Barlow, 88th Air Base Wing Commander, said there are just a few people they have to figure out funding for but for the most part it should soon be returning to normal at Wright-Patt.
"We're back, we have a job, we're going to have a little discomfort getting our full paychecks back but we like what we do here," said Margaret Wilmath who works at Wright-Patt.
Those 8,700 workers who were not allowed to come to work for four days last week will get a paycheck this Friday. And unless the Department of Defense announces a change before then, it will not include Tuesday through Friday of last week, the days they were furloughed.
This weekend, the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice determined the Pay Our Military Act, which was passed last week, can eliminate furloughs for the 8,700 employees but it didn't provide the base with a budget to do their day-to-day operations.
"It's one thing to pay our people. It's another thing to get an operating budget so we can do our jobs," said Barlow.
But it's a start. Barlow says morale improved significantly when they called the furloughed employees back into work this weekend.
"They were surprised, they were relieved, they were happy, people were ready to come back to work," she said.
"I'm glad to be back at work, it's sort of a shame," said Matt Fisher, who works at the base.
But these workers have their work cut out for them as they have to make up for lost work from last week on top of the furloughed time from this summer.
"There's a lot of sustainment and restoration work that didn't happen last week, so that kicked the can further down the road there," said Barlow. "It's just going to take time, it's going to be a little slower than before the furlough, but it's just going to take time before we are able to catch up."
Col. Barlow used the words "cautious optimism" as they wait for a budget and as they wait to find out if they will get a check from last week. She also said this year has been very unprecedented with so many furloughs. She says the Dayton Food Bank and other agencies will be on base tomorrow to provide assistance to the many civilians who are still recovering from both furloughs.
Wright-Patt Commander to Speak Today on Workers' Return
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE -- Col. Cassie Barlow, 88th Air Base Wing Commander, is expected to speak to the media at 3 p.m. today on the return to work of Wright-Patterson civilians, the implications of the government shutdown and the current status of the base.
Over the weekend, the base released a statement attributed to Barlow about the workers' return.
"We are grateful for the opportunity to bring our entire team back to work," Barlow said. "While it will take some time to catch up from last week's disruption, I'm confident our team is more than capable of meeting this challenge."
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