Friday furloughs planned this summer at JBLM

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD — About 10,000 civilian workers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord could work four-day weeks this summer, taking off 11 straight Fridays in a row as furlough days to reduce spending.

Base officials said Monday details are still being worked out as they respond to proposed cuts.

The News Tribune reported that the first furlough Friday would be July 12.

About 25,000 people live at Lewis-McChord. Another 63,000 work there in uniform or as civilians providing services.

A panel of Lewis-McChord Army and Air Force commanders announced the plan. They will hit firefighters, mechanics, doctors and many other workers who operate the city-like services at the base south of Tacoma.

“This city, as you can imagine, doesn’t run on its own,” said Lewis-McChord base commander Col. Charles Hodges.

Hodges said Lewis-McChord is considering exemptions for firefighters and police officers.

Hodges and other leaders hope Congress will avert the furloughs by canceling forced federal spending reductions known as sequestration. Those cuts cost the Pentagon about $40 billion this year and will reduce defense spending by about $500 billion over the next decade.

Lewis-McChord commanders said they’re already seeing negative effects from the budget cuts as vacancies go unfilled and some Defense Department civilians take jobs outside the military.

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