By Mrs. Jennifer Bacchus (AMC)March 15, 2013
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- Anniston Army Depot Commander Col. Brent Bolander held three town hall sessions this week, accompanied by installation leaders.
The meetings allowed Bolander to communicate with the workforce regarding recent fiscal year 2013 budget cuts, commonly known as sequestration, and how they would affect depot operations.
The night shift session was held at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in the final paint facility of the Nichols Industrial Complex.
Thursday afternoon, the second town hall meeting was also held in the final paint facility. It was broadcast live on the LAN.
This morning, the third meeting will be held in the west area.
Topics at each meeting included the temporary workforce, furloughs, overtime, reduction in force and Base Realignment and Closure.
Bolander thanked employees for stepping up and working hard during a time when the depot and the warfighters needed them, but said all the temporary workers would leave the installation when their contracted time ends.
For most, that day will be March 30.
"There is nothing I can say or do that is going to lessen the pain of you departing at the end of the month," Bolander told those gathered for the night shift meeting. "What I can do is say thank you for your dedication to come here and provide for the warfighters."
Beginning Monday, supervisors in the production area will meet with temporary employees one-on-one and provide them with their Notification of Personnel Actions, which gives the end date for their temporary appointment.
The town hall meetings did offer a little hope to the temporary employees. Bolander informed the workforce there may be positions that would open, based on workload, in the future.
"We are looking at the right number of folks that would be optimal," said Bolander, adding that current temporary workers would have to apply and compete against other applicants for the positions, should they come available.
The number of positions, type of jobs and even whether or not any additional hiring would be allowed has yet to be determined, but Bolander told employees he hopes to have answers to some questions before the end of the month.
The depot's permanent workforce faces furloughs, which Bolander emphasized were not written in stone yet.
"I'm not even sure I can answer with a straight face the question of whether or not the decision regarding furloughs has been made," said Bolander.
He told the workforce that, if furloughs do go into effect, the depot's work week would change the week of April 22 to a five-day, eight-hour-a-day, schedule. This would allow each Friday to be a furlough day.
If the installation's employees are furloughed, there will be no overtime. However, Bolander acknowledged that emergency situations may arise.
"There will be times when a machine will go down or a piece of equipment is required for fielding," he said. "Then, I will go back to my boss and request an exception."
Bolander acknowledged the rumors and discussions regarding a reduction in force by reminding employees that RIF discussions have been on-going for more than a year.
The future workload is too unpredictable to make a definite determination, Bolander said, adding he hopes, during the approval process for the RIF, the workload forecast improves to the point where a reduction would be unnecessary.
"It takes nine months to a year for the RIF process to go through," said Bolander. "Again, one was submitted last year and it didn't happen."
The commander acknowledged there are individuals who are recommending Base Realignment and Closure, but said there have not been any formal discussions to that end.
He emphasized employees have a degree of control over any potential future BRAC measures.
"Keep putting out quality products on schedule and according to standards," said Bolander.
During the night shift meeting, the leadership specifically spoke to the length of second shift operations.
Bolander and Director of Production Jeff Simmons told the group that the night shift would be essentially eliminated once temporary employees left the installation.
The vast majority of night shift employees would transition into positions on the day shift.
"Based upon where we are right now, there will only be a finite group on night shift," said Bolander.
Those on night shift would be only in select areas where personnel are necessary.
"We will evaluate the processes," said Simmons. "There may be a few isolated areas that will continue to have a night shift."
Depot leaders said they would keep the workforce informed as decisions are made.
Sequestration questions and answers
The following questions were submitted to the Public Affairs Office by depot employees. Answers were derived from TACOM Life Cycle Management Command guidance and Anniston Army Depot leadership.
Anyone with questions that were not answered during the three recent town hall sessions and who cannot find the answers here should contact the PAO via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Q: What are the types of furlough and the differences between them?
A: Emergency Furlough -- An emergency furlough (also called a shutdown furlough) occurs when there is a lapse in appropriations, and can occur at the beginning of a fiscal year, if no funds have been appropriated for that year, or upon expiration of a continuing resolution, if a new continuing resolution or appropriation law is not passed. In an emergency furlough, an affected agency would have to shut down any activities funded by annual appropriations that are not excepted by law. Typically, an agency will have very little to no lead time to plan and implement an emergency furlough.
Administrative Furlough -- An administrative furlough is a planned event by an agency which is designed to absorb reductions necessitated by downsizing, reduced funding, lack of work, or any other budget situation other than a lapse in appropriations. This type of furlough is typically a non-emergency furlough in that the agency has sufficient time to reduce spending and give adequate notice to employees of its specific furlough plan and how many furlough days will be required. Sequestration is an example of a situation in which such a furlough may be necessary. In an administrative furlough, there is no reimbursement at a later date, as sometimes occurs in an emergency furlough.
2. Q: On the Morning Show, it was said that furloughs would begin April 26. Since this is a work Friday, would that be our first unpaid Friday? When will the change in work schedule begin?
A: The furlough will begin with the pay period beginning April 21. ANAD employees will revert to an eight-hour/five day work schedule and April 26 will be the first furlough day.
3. Q: How will emergency call-ins be handled -- for example, if DOIM is called in for a server issue or if DPW is called in for equipment repair? At what rate will emergency calls be paid?
A: The rate will be applied as per OPM rules. Two factors are considered - the eight-hour workday and the 40-hour work week. An employee must work eight hours on any given day before any overtime rate is paid and more than 40 hours in a week.
4. Q: Will overtime exist during furlough?
A: The short answer is no. However, there may be times when workload or emergency situations dictate that a number of employees work more than their allotted number of hours. These situations would have to be approved by our higher headquarters before overtime hours are allowed.
5. Q: If the employee's furlough day is on Monday (work Tues.-Fri.), when will their Monday holidays be? Will this have any impact on them getting paid for the holiday, since they are supposed to work the day before or the day after the holiday to get paid?
A: Employees may be furloughed for periods of time that include federal holidays. However, an agency should select the furlough days off on programmatic and administrative grounds that are unrelated to the fact that the period includes a holiday.
For example, an agency may not properly furlough employees for a three-day period, the middle of which is a holiday, for the sole purpose of saving three days' pay while losing only two days of work. Nor would it be proper to furlough an employee solely on a holiday.
6. Q: Regarding furloughs: Some employees begin their shift at 6 a.m., some at 6:30 a.m., others at 7 a.m. With a furlough -- will they still be able to work the same schedule?
A: All employees have a set work schedule. The start time will not change. Please consult your supervisor if you need additional clarity.
7. Q: Can work schedules be flexed during the furlough period? Can employees volunteer to start their shift earlier - come in earlier?
A: Anniston Army Depot does not have a flexible work schedule. We are on a set alternate work schedule. Employees will not be permitted to begin their shifts earlier than scheduled.
8. Q: How will the furlough time affect the way leave is accrued -- sick leave and annual leave?
A: If an employee is furloughed for part of a bi-weekly pay period, the employee's leave accrual will generally not be affected for that pay period.
However, once a full-time employee accumulates a total of 80 hours in a non-pay status, the employee will not earn annual and sick leave in the pay period in which that 80-hour accumulation is reached. (This 80-hour accumulation may accrue over a period of several pay periods.)
9. Q: Regarding the latest round of VERA/VSIP -- how many employees were permitted to accept the offer? Did that number affect the depot in any way? Will there be another round offered?
A: Six employees were granted VERA/VSIP for the February window. Another window will open in May.
10. Q: What about BRAC? Can we expect it to happen?
A: There have been discussions and recommendations regarding BRAC. However, no one has made a decision to that effect. "Do what you do best. Do it to the best of your ability and the rest will take care of itself," said Depot Commander Col. Brent Bolander during one of the town hall meetings.
11. Q: Will a lump sum payment of term employees' annual leave be applied to their unemployment compensation benefits? Or will they receive a lump sum payment from the government for any unused annual leave?
A: An employee will receive a lump-sum payment for any unused annual leave when s/he separates from federal service. Unemployment benefit entitlements are administered by the state in which the employee works and are separate from any benefits the employee is entitled to as a federal employee.
12. Q: Is there any chance term/temporary employees will be called back if the workload increases? If so, what are the procedures? Some employees are being told that they would just receive a phone call.
A: Anniston Army Depot does not have term employees on the roles, only temporary employees. Temporary appointments will not be extended. If vacancies exist, individuals may apply using OPM rules.
13. Q: Why are term employees who have never received counseling or a letter of instruction concerning their sick leave use required to have a doctor's excuse before being approved for sick leave for the remainder of their time on depot?
A: It is the employee's responsibility to provide medical evidence regarding the sick leave. Management can ask for that evidence/information at any time.
14. Q: Many night shift employees did not know about the rapid response sessions scheduled several weeks ago. They missed the first scheduled night, but were there waiting at the second scheduled night; however, the person presenting the program did not show up. Will this be scheduled again or is there a resource they can visit for information?
A: These sessions will be scheduled again. The date/time/location will be announced through supervision, LAN and The Morning Show. Additionally, the information relayed during these sessions can be retrieved by visiting the Chamber of Commerce's location at the Quintard Mall.
15. Q: What is the workload future as far out as can be predicted?
A: We are currently looking at the FY14 workload numbers, but there is a lot of uncertainty between now and then. Our workload numbers change daily and we will keep the workforce updated as things become more certain.
Additionally, the Public Affairs Office received questions regarding travel during furlough. We are researching that question and will print an answer in a future issue of TRACKS.