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Furloughed workers share frustration with secretary of defense at NAS Jax

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Updated: 7/16/2013 7:06 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- They're struggling to feed their families and pay their bills. Twenty-seven hundred civilian workers at Naval Air Station Jacksonville are going without 20 percent of their pay due to sequestration.

Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited the base to talk with furloughed civilian workers and answer questions.

"I dedicated my whole working life supporting our war fighters and this is the thanks I got?" questioned furloughed civilian worker Phillip Adrigo.

Adrigo is fired up. He's a retired military member serving since he was 18. This Friday, he and his wife will be forced to stay home, furloughed, instead of reporting to work at NAS Jax.

"Just imagine taking 20 percent of your pay. How are you going to pay for your mortgage? How are you going to pay for the food on your table?" he asked.

Adrigo was one of 100 other civilians in the crowd as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel addressed their concerns. Adrigo wasn't even invited to attend -- he said he had to force his way in.

In fact, about 2,600 of the furloughed workers weren't given a seat. Action News was told that was the biggest space the base could secure. We asked Hagel how he feels about that.

"I don't know of that was a local decision based on space or what, but I do know civilian employees who have been furloughed, whether they were there or not there, they're going through the same pain. I'd say the same thing to this person if they were standing where you are as I said this morning. I'm sorry," Hagel said.

Adrigo said this issue goes far beyond just the future of these workers and their families. It's impacting the safety of America.

"We might have a soldier out there running out of bullets, running out of food, running out of clothing. This thing's going to hurt our war fighters," he said.

Action News asked who will keep them safe if he and other civilian workers aren't there to do their job.

I don't know," he said.

Hagel said he has noticed a drop in productivity while touring bases like NAS Jax. He said it's inevitable.

The fear now is civilians will start leaving to find jobs elsewhere.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

whosaysnocan - 7/17/2013 7:15 AM
0 Votes
Hey Fed and Proud & USN Vet~Just have to straighten a few things out for you concerning your comments directed to me. I am a military veteran, served '73-'79. Worked in federal service for a combination of 25 years, not counting my active duty~so I have 30 years total. All civilian job was DoD/DON. I worked the "deck." Worked hard in all weather conditions, spent many hours on the flight line also. My point is that many~not all~but many of my co-workers based their lifestyle on the great overtime we got to work. I did not. Had many discussions with these ones. So, all overtime has been cancelled and you cannot use your annual or sick leave to cover that 8 hours. That makes no sense as I know those leave hours are "banked" hours, I am surprise you people are not screaming about that. I would if I was still there. No I did not get FIRED! I retired. I was an outstanding employee, did my job well with distinction and pride. There were so many around me that spent more time complaining, riding out the work cards, manipulated time as much as they could get away with. I would like to believe that this has changed, but really? Complacency is ingrained into that culture and it probably is the same as when I worked there. I do suppose it could have changed, but I doubt it. I surely do not like Congress, the IRS, or any of the other huge entities of the fed gov. It is a good day when there are reports of the investigations into the way these are spending our tax dollars. Mid terms are soon~surely you are going to vote. I pray those that have been the catalyst to what you are having to deal with are voted out and maybe the next congress will actually work for ALL of We the People, not just for those that are their cash cows. BTW~I am a woman. Also for those that gave their life for me, I praise them, I have several family remembers as well as friends that served in Iraq & Afghanistan. I know the drill guys. Enjoy your days off~make lemonade out of those lemons.

tiredoubletalk - 7/17/2013 12:19 AM
1 Vote
Don't like the budget cuts, well remember them when it comes time to vote. Keep the republicans out of office. Their the ones that said that the cuts won't amount to much and the lay offs won't happen.

Fed and Proud - 7/16/2013 6:02 PM
0 Votes
USN Vet Right on with your comments! I'm like you a patriot serving the War Fighter. When I read comments like whosaysnocan I realize he's one of those guys that joined civil service and then found out it wasn't "the gravy train" ride he hoped for and most likely got fired. Don't mistaken DoD Federal employees with the GSA guy in the hot tub with wine! These folks are skilled artisans working technical airframes and avionics. As for take the annual leave we earn for the furlough day well we can't it's 32 hours a week period.

hellojax - 7/16/2013 6:02 PM
0 Votes
All Hagel can say is he's sorry?!!!!!! Sorry won't pay my light bill (and we ALL know JEA wants that money!), buy groceries, OR pay my rent! Sorry won't buy the basic everyday things we struggle to provide for our families like toiletries and basic living needs, school requirements during the school year, surprise expenses like a disabled vehicle, or even the gas that I need to get to work! I budget like any other family but I depend on everything I work for in today's economy. This IS like a slap in the face after serving my country and then leaving service to 'serve' again on the civilian side. The warfighter will suffer because of this. My question is why couldn't Congress take the furlough days? They could afford it more than we can for sure and the government would save a lot more money.

usn vet - 7/16/2013 5:43 PM
0 Votes
Oh and on the Top of it you got full pay and benefits and were on the old retirement system... Shame on you if you do not like the military protecting you go live out side the U.S.

usn vet - 7/16/2013 5:41 PM
0 Votes
whosaysnocan, You may have worked there but what about the people who gave their lives to keep you safe. I do not appreciate your comments. You must have had a reason to leave after 15 years, that is your problem. Obviously you do not respect the true meaning of serving your country. Shame on you !! The furlough to the DOD is not fair, when it is not across the board to all Federal agencies. You think we make all the bucks you are wrong. Overtime has been cancelled, even working credit hours is. My whole purpose for joining NAVAIR was to continue my patriotism is the reason I joined the ranks and make it easier for our troops. I remember when I served and parts were not available or the aircraft would break. Do you think it is fair the IRS got bonuses, or all the money we are sending over to Egypt and other countries? SO you like paying taxes for the congress and senate to take our tax dollars and fly around the world and tax vacations. Do you think it was correct for the First Lady taking 20 of her friends on a hob knob in France and Europe? Do you think our leaders in Washington deserve pay when they cannot come to resolution? SO before you shout out your comments not thinking you can hurt others, I would think again. Shame on You

whosaysnocan - 7/16/2013 5:00 PM
2 Votes
It is understandable that many of these civilian federal employees are cranky about losing 20% of their pay~using 20% looks lots worse that it really is for many of these people. The G-S pay is quite nice and the W-G pay can be even better when there is overtime. I would say 1 days pay for many of them is probably $120-$280, depending on what step they are. Some are quite a bit more. I suspect many have 100's of hours of annual/sick leave they could use. That is from a different pot of $$. "Adrigo is fired up. He's a retired military member serving since he was 18. This Friday, he and his wife will be forced to stay home, furloughed, instead of reporting to work at NAS Jax." This is a couple that both work @NAS JAX, & he is a retired military, so they must have terrible skills at budgeting their income or like many I used to work with out there, they live way beyond their means. And their means would seem to be considerable. "The fear now is civilians will start leaving to find jobs elsewhere." Now that statement makes me laugh myself to tears! REALLY? Where will these people find the pay, liberal leave, 10 paid vacation days, most week ends off, unless of course they can get the overtime I got. Highly unlikely. I spent 15 years out there. Was there when the Clinton Admin almost did this. The common sense thing was to be prepared. These people aren't going any where. This Adrigo person should enjoy the day off with his wife. A three day week end. Look at what you have vice complaining, which I heard lots of while I work out there. Get your house in order. Chances are come fiscal year 2013-2014 will work out find for you. Oh BTW, I am sure many of those complaining the loudest are among those that HATE Mr. Obama & the air he breaths.
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