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Furloughed Return to Work, Questions of Pay Remain

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Updated: Tue, 08 Oct 2013 09:40:26 EST

Less than a week after 4,000 civilian workers at Robins Air Force Base were sent home on furloughs, they were back on the job Monday.

The return to work didn't mean a return to normalcy. If anything, recall on furloughs brought more questions and concerns for the workers.

Disgust, ridiculous, and tired of it, is how several union workers described their current situation.

"Enough is enough," said Charlie Tripis, Executive Vice President of the American Federation of Government Workers Post 987 in Warner Robins.

The news that workers were to return to work Monday seemed a little sketchy.

"They're using the government workers as a pawn on a big game of chess," said Tripis.

While all workers now know they are to return to work, one question remains uncertain.

"We're we brought back with pay or are we on IOU status," he said.

An email from J. Anthony Poleo, Chief Financial Officer of the Defense Logistics Agency attempted to explain the financial situation.

An exert from the email sent on October 3 stated he was confident that all three agencies can continue operations at least through Friday, October 11. It was what he called "his best professional estimate".

Before the government went into shutdown, President Obama signed the "Pay Our Military Act" to end furloughs to most of the approximately 400,000 civilian employees.

As of Monday, all workers are reporting to work but no one is getting paid until Senate approves the legislation for back pay which was in discussion Monday.

"They're getting paid, why aren't we," said Tripis

"They're beating up on the little man, continuously," said Jeanette McElhanoy, Treasure of AFGE Post 987.

On top of not getting paid currently, the civilian workers at AFGE said their yearly raises have been absent for the last three years.

"Congress continues to get what they want," said McElhanoy. "We're working everyday, we're not getting raises, so why are you going to break our backs to satisfy your little worms."

The furlough process is becoming all to common for these workers, it's the second in less than 6 months. If Washington can't agree on a Continuous Resolution and Debt Ceiling, a third will be almost certain. Workers demand an agreement be reached.

"Not just for a month, not for two months, long term," said Tripis. "So we wouldn't have to go back through these turmoils again because people are concerned about how they're going to pay their bills. It's a legitimate concern."

Georgia Congressman Austin Scott released a statement Monday in response to the Department of Defense's decision to revise implementation of the Pay Our Military Act saying:

"DOD must adhere to the intent of the law congress passed, which is to ensure all defense workers are able to due their jobs. After a week of unnecessary turmoil for the workers at Robins and Moody, it is important that the department swiftly implement the revised policy to ensure all workers may return to work without further delay."

Furloughed workers are planning two pickets outside of Congressman Scott's office in Warner Robins Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. then again at 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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