Created: Tue, 01 Oct 2013 05:40:00 EST
Updated: Wed, 02 Oct 2013 10:19:16 EST
When over 2,000 civilian base workers arrived to work this Tuesday morning at Robins Air Force Base, they were given forms to sign acknowledging they are now on furlough. Furloughed workers were allowed to stay on the clock for four hours but had to leave the premises by lunch.
The United States government shut down for the first time in 17 years, initiating the second furlough period for civilian base workers in less than 6 months. The Sequestration furloughs back in June lasted only six days, on Fridays only.
"This one could be a lot longer," said Tom Scott, President of the American Federation of Government Employees Post 987 in Warner Robins. "It could be a whole pay period without any money, so it can have more of a financial burden."
After receiving notice of furlough, most workers made their way to their union post, uncertain of what's next.
Scott says he has concerns about how the furlough process was undertaken.
"It's supposed to go by seniority and some of it may be seemed to be handpicking 101," he said.
according to union members, Scott says workers weren't educated on alternate income options, one being unemployment. Furloughed workers are eligible for unemployment benefits once furloughed for more than seven days.
"they were just given that letter I showed you regarding the decision to furlough you," he said.
This furlough comes midway into the pay period. Workers will already be faced with the reality of a partial paycheck and Scott says there's the possibility of the organization that cuts the paychecks to be hit with furloughs as well.
"There's the unknown and uncertainty whether everything will be administratively correct on their paychecks, allotment amounts," said Scott. "Because they will have a skeleton crew with the same amount of workload."
Officials believe there is enough money in the budget to pay non-furloughed workers for at least 10 to 14 days. If the shutdown goes beyond two weeks, those workers will continue to report to work but won't expect a paycheck in their mailbox on payday.
They will eventually get paid for those days but not until Congress passes legislation to approve back-pay.