JOINT BASE LEWIS-McChord, Wash. As many as 10,000 civilian employees at Joint Base Lewis McChord could be furloughed because of federal budget cuts starting next month.
JBLM commander Col. H. Charles Hodges, Jr. said the cuts could result in 20 percent paycuts for employees who work in the base’s medical facilities, restaurants and for the utilities providing water and electricity to the base’s 100,000 soldiers and families.
Most will be forced to take every Friday off, without pay, from July through September.
The commander of JBLM’s Madigan Army Medical Center said 70 percent of his employees will be impacted.
A number of employees will be exempt from the cuts including those who work in the behavior health department and the neonatal unit, said Col. Dalla Homas.
Firefighters who work in JBLM’s six fire stations are hoping to be exempt from the cuts.The president of the Lewis-McChord firefighter's union said otherwise two of the stations would have to be shut down, resulting in longer wait times and a less safe base.
Col. Hodges said firefighters may be exempt from the cuts.
A decision on who won’t be furloughed will be made by the end of the month.
But even if the firefighters face furloughs, while he admitted firefighter response times could take longer, Col. Hodges said the base will remain safe.