The impact of the Department of Defense sequester cuts is being felt here in Western Mass as the first of 11 furlough days began Monday at Westover Air Reserve Base.
"It's difficult for all of us to deal with, we are doing the best we can to deal with it," said Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe. "We don't know what's going to happen beyond the end of fiscal year, we have to comply with the orders of the Pentagon."
Biscoe is one of more than 700 at Westover Air Reserve base who is being mandated to take furlough days from now until September. In total, the days of unpaid leave add up to a 20 percent pay cut for those employees affected.
"I have a mortgage like many people do in this country and the mortgage payments don't stop. I still have to make the payments, even with the furloughs," said Biscoe.
And, the days off mean big changes at the base.
"The furloughs affect everything from operations, to maintenance, to administration, to our finance office, to my own office here in public affairs," said Biscoe.
Some of the changes include the closure of the James Street Gate on the furlough days and the shortening of hours at the bases airport.
"The traffic tower is manned by the Department of Defense air traffic controllers and they are being furloughed as of today. So what that means is that they have to cut back their hours at the air traffic control tower here, which means the airport hours are affected," said Biscoe. "The airport hours are going to change from 7 a.m. on the weekends to 8:30 a.m. and from closing at 4:30 p.m. on the weekends as opposed to 11 o'clock at night."
The furlough days will take place July 8, 19, and 22, Aug. 2, 5, 16, 19, 29 and 30 and Sept.13 and 16.
Originally, the base was asked to take 22 days which was then cut back to the 11 now being served.
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