910th workers return

VIENNA – After nearly one week off the job, civilian employees at the 910th Airlift Wing here should be returning to work today.

The return is part of the Pentagon bringing back to work at least 90 percent of the estimated 350,000 defense civilian employees who were furloughed in the partial government shutdown last week.

Chief of public affairs at the station, Maj. Brent Davis said Sunday that the workers are “really happy to get back to work serving the Valley.”

He said he got word about the call-back from commander of the station, Col. James Dignan.

The decision to bring back the civilians was announced Saturday by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. It is based on a Pentagon interpretation of a law called the Pay Our Military Act. That measure was passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama shortly before the partial government shutdown began Tuesday.

In a written statement explaining his action, Hagel said the Justice Department advised that the law does not permit a blanket recall of all Pentagon civilians. But government attorneys concluded that the law does allow the Pentagon to eliminate furloughs for “employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.”

Robert Hale, the Pentagon’s budget chief, said that even with this relief, the effect of the furloughs has been severe.

“We’ve seriously harmed civilian morale; this (recall) will be a start back,” he said.

The 910th’s civilian employees are no strangers to mandatory furloughs.

Throughout the summer, they were ordered to stay home one day a week without pay. At the time, the move was estimated to save the air station about $2 million.