Most furloughed workers back at JBLM

Staff writerOctober 8, 2013 

The partial government shutdown continues with no end in sight, but thousands of Joint Base Lewis-McChord civilian employees are back on the job and expecting full paychecks by the end of the month.

Most of the base’s 8,000 furloughed workers were at work Monday; about half of those worked last week, too, though with no certainty about their pay.

The return to a regular workforce Monday allowed the base’s commissaries to reopen after being closed for five days and enabled programs that had been stifled by the shutdown to start getting back up to speed.

At Madigan Army Medical Center, the full workforce was due back to the hospital Tuesday, spokesman Jay Ebbeson said.

Madigan “will be whole,” Ebbeson said. “We’re looking forward to that.”

Across the highway at Camp Murray, the Washington National Guard brought about 700 civilian employees back to work. About 80 others remain on furlough.

“This is good news for the men and women who have been off the job — as well as the entire state of Washington,” said Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty.

The Defense Department last week placed about 350,000 employees on unpaid furlough status. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel over the weekend recalled almost all workers through a new interpretation of a law Congress passed to ensure that military service members would receive their pay on time through the shutdown.

Civilian workers are due to receive their next paycheck Oct. 17. That check could be a partial one with employees not receiving wages for last week’s four furlough days, Lewis-McChord spokesman Joe Piek said.

Base employees should receive full wages on the following payday, Oct. 31. It’s not clear yet when the back wages for the four furlough days will be restored.

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