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Gatehouse at Ft. Drum. Photo: Mark Kurtz
Gatehouse at Ft. Drum. Photo: Mark Kurtz

Shut-down sends Ft. Drum civilian workers home

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Fort Drum civilian workers deemed non-essential were sent home midday yesterday.

A division spokeswoman said the government shut-down comes at a bad time, because it comes on top of a nearly two-year hiring freeze that has many departments already down to "bare bones" staffing.

And this is a busy time for Fort Drum, with units preparing for deployments, and others returning and going through reintegration.

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Reported by

Joanna Richards
Watertown Correspondent

Because Fort Drum is made up of a handful of separate commands, each with different guidelines they must follow, it's unclear exactly how many workers at the post are affected by the shutdown.

Loren Zeilnhofer is with the American Federation of Government Employees Local 400.  He says about a third of the union's 1,200 members have been sent home until further notice.

“ It's a general feeling of disgust. Nobody likes that this is happening, especially because it is avoidable. This did not have to happen. So morale is really bad, to put it mildly.”

The shutdown comes after six days of furloughs earlier this year from the federal budget sequester. Zeilnhofer says many workers feel like they've had a rug yanked out from under them.

“ Then, there you are: you've got your mortgage, you've got your car bills, you've got your childcare bills, you've got your groceries to buy. And so for some people at the lower spectrum, that can really do some damage for them.”

Fort Drum's commander issued a statement to Fort Drum's workers and military families, assuring them that crucial services involving health and safety would be unaffected, and the post would continue to carry out its military mission.

Congressman Bill Owens from Plattsburgh says he thinks the total number of furloughed workers at Fort Drum could grow quickly if the government shut-down drags on.

" We're seeing some significant furloughs there. At least temporarily, the furloughs affect about a third of the employees. However, as this plays out, and the training exercises are completed, that number or percentage could change dramatically."

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