By Mrs. Jennifer Bacchus (AMC)June 20, 2013
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- Col. Brent Bolander, Anniston Army Depot's commander, held his second series of town hall meetings June 12.
Topics included the upcoming furlough, overtime, future workload, safety and sexual harassment and assault.
Bolander acknowledged that furlough proposal letters had been distributed to the workforce and reiterated the time table for the impending furlough.
July 12 -- First furlough day for most employees
July 15 -- Beginning of eight-hour workdays
Sept. 21 -- End of furlough time -- lasting 11 weeks
Bolander noted that further reductions in furlough days are still being considered.
"There are still some discussions taking place to possibly reduce that burden on the workforce," said Bolander. "I don't know how successful that will be."
Civilian Personnel Advisory Center Director Vivian Henry covered the topic of unemployment compensation during a furlough for employees.
"As it stands right now, we would not be eligible for unemployment compensation due to the reduced work schedule during furlough," said Henry, citing Alabama Department of Labor guidance. This guidance may be found online at http://dir.alabama.gov/uc/claims.aspx.
As the depot approaches its furlough dates, overtime has been reduced throughout the installation and Bolander said the reduction would continue.
During the last town hall sessions, in March, Bolander discussed the fact that he had submitted required paperwork for a reduction in force in 2014, should workload numbers make the reduction necessary.
"As it stands right now, if workload continues as expected, we will not have to have a RIF," he said, adding that the future is always subject to change. "Currently, next year's workload looks similar to where we are right now in FY13."
Bolander acknowledged the confusion many people felt when 360 temporary employees ended their employment with the depot only to have the installation ask for 80 term positions to be filled a few months later, just as furlough preparations began.
He explained the term employees will be hired for one year to assist with workload requirements and, at the end of that time, the leadership would assess workload requirements.
Bolander explained that no hiring is done at his level currently. All internal movements are approved at TACOM Life Cycle Management Command and external hires must be approved by the Army Materiel Command.
"One of the areas that worries me the most and one where I'm noticing a bad trend is in safety," said Bolander. "We are, right now, at 141 recordable injuries."
He told employees that one injured employee was too many to him and it is the responsibility of every employee to not only work safely, but make sure their coworkers work safely as well.
To emphasize this point, Mark LeShall, a supervisor in the Directorate of Production shared his thoughts on safety. LeShall's shop was shaken last year when an employee experienced a forklift accident.
LeShall said employees in his cost center now see the affect they can have on their own safety as well as their coworkers.
"Everyone has an opportunity to make a difference in safety," he said.
LeShall reminded employees coworkers are often friends and that we are all part of a depot family.
In recent months, the Army has experienced numerous cases of sexual harassment and assault.
"To me, there is zero tolerance for that kind of atmosphere," said Bolander, telling employees the Army had instituted a new program aimed at reducing sexual harassment and assault.
The Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program aids employees in recognizing this behavior in themselves and others.
"What is in our realm of influence is making sure the person next to us is not doing these things and, if they are, reporting it," said Bolander as he introduced Tim Rolfe, the SHARP program manager for the depot.
Rolfe said harassment claims of any kind are still handled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Office, but that his office is available for any employee who wants to discuss the issue or report an assault.
"People need to be treated with dignity and respect," said Bolander as he asked employees to help eradicate harassing behavior.
Bolander told employees at the town halls that they are appreciated for the work they do, both by the leadership and visitors who tour the installation. However, that appreciation will likely not be shown through a Community Appreciation Day this year.
"I wish we could. I think it's important to recognize all the hard work that happens here," he said. "But, I think you will all agree with me that it is hard to justify spending those dollars when we are being furloughed."
Bolander told employees how proud he was to have been a recipient of weapons systems overhauled here at the depot and asked the crowds to remember the warfighter each day as they do their job.
One employee in the afternoon town hall, Lola Greene, asked her coworkers to remember the warfighters who count on the equipment to save lives.
"When you do your job every day, remember, the equipment is used by someone's son or daughter and they want their Soldier to come home," said Greene.