Wright-Patt Begins Emergency Furlough Due to Partial Government Shutdown

Oct 1, 2013

Colonel Cassie Barlow of the 88th Air Base Wing speaks to reporters about a possible emergency furlough.
Credit WYSO/Lewis Wallace

As of midnight, October 1st, the U.S. House and Senate had not agreed on a  budget, and the federal government is now implementing a partial shut down for the first time since 1995-1996.

On Tuesday Forbes listed Dayton as one of the top ten cities at risk during a government shutdown. Civilian workers at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base bear the immediate brunt: approximately 8,700 non-military staff at Wright-Patt received furlough letters Tuesday morning.

“People are pretty frustrated, that’s probably the best word,” Colonel Cassie Barlow, commander of the 88th Air Base wing, said in a press conference on Monday in anticipation of the shutdown.

She said an emergency furlough would be a double blow: Wright-Patt workers took six furlough days over the summer as a result of last year’s sequestration showdown. Two types of furloughs, both planned and emergency, in a single year is unprecedented.

“Our folks who have been around for a long time are questioning whether it’s the right time to retire,” Barlow said. “Our newest employees are questioning whether the government was the right decision.”

Around 3,000 Wright-Patt civilians will stay on to support essential military functions. Officials estimate a loss of $5 million in wages for each emergency furlough day, and employees will not know until a new budget is passed whether they would be reimbursed for the unpaid days. 

In a written statement Tuesday morning, Barlow said:

We want to thank our civilian employees for their continued service and strength in the face of adversity.  We stand firm in stating that this government shutdown is not a reflection on the service of our employees and the value we place on their work.

We hope a resolution to this situation will happen quickly so that personnel impacts will be minimized and we can get back to best executing our critical mission.

In additional to furloughs at Wright-Patt, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force has closed, canceling all tours and other events.