Save this content for laterSave this content on your device for later, even while offline Sign in with FacebookSign in with your Facebook account Close

Thousands of Colorado Springs-area furloughed workers back on the job

October 7, 2013 Updated: October 8, 2013 at 6:31 am
0
photo - Violeta Atchison stocks English cucumbers and other vegetables in the produce section of the Fort Carson Commissary Monday, Oct. 7, 2013.  The on-base grocery store reopened and about 1,000 civilian workers returned to their jobs at Fort Carson. Most furloughed workers on other local military bases and the Air Force Academy returned to work Monday, as well.
Carol Lawrence, The Gazette
Violeta Atchison stocks English cucumbers and other vegetables in the produce section of the Fort Carson Commissary Monday, Oct. 7, 2013. The on-base grocery store reopened and about 1,000 civilian workers returned to their jobs at Fort Carson. Most furloughed workers on other local military bases and the Air Force Academy returned to work Monday, as well. Carol Lawrence, The Gazette 

Thousands of federal workers in the Pikes Peak region were back on the job Monday, but the tension of the government shutdown remained.

"Everyone is holding their breath to see what happens next," said Fort Carson spokeswoman Dee McNutt. "It's not business as usual yet."

The end of all but a handful of Defense Department furloughs in the Pikes Peak region came after the Pentagon re-interpreted a law approved by Congress last week that authorized pay for troops and the civilian workers who support them. Calls to area installations revealed fewer than a dozen workers off the job Monday.

At Fort Carson, that meant more than 1,000 workers were back to work. Commanders at the post determined that every one of them plays some role in supporting soldiers.

It was a similar story at the Air Force Academy, where more than 1,000 workers, including more than 300 workers on the instructional side of the school, returned to work.

Commissaries on bases are reopening, and other services shuttered by the shutdown are back in business, too. But the Defense Department still faces serious restrictions in spending.

Purchases of supplies or equipment are off the table along with travel, hiring and other activities that require a budget from Congress.

"That certainly can be disruptive and draining," said Col. William Liquori, who commands the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base.

Schriever brought back all 392 civilian workers who were furloughed last week. Civilians play a large role in the 50th Space Wing, which controls the military's constellation of satellites, including the Global Positioning System.

"From my perspective each and every one of our civilians is critical here," Liquori said.

Peterson Air Force base had all 2,200 of its civilians back on the job Monday and another 700 were back at U.S. Northern Command.

"The one thing I would want to make clear is we are glad to have them back," said Col. John Shaw, who commands Peterson's 21st Space Wing. "Our problems remain, but now we can attack them as a team."

While teamwork may be the theme at military bases, intramural battles still dominated Congress Monday.

Colorado Springs Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn said the ongoing budget standoff showed no signs of ending Monday.

He said he was getting two kinds of feedback.

First are those who want the shutdown ended.

"Some people are upset we aren't doing more and blame everybody," he said.

The second class of callers are backing the Republican effort to cut off money for Obamacare, which led to the shutdown.

Lamborn said he's working to ease the shutdown's symptoms by pushing for a measure that would return all federal workers to the job and guarantee paychecks.

Lamborn said getting workers back on the job makes sense for taxpayers, because Congress is all but certain to authorize back pay to cover the furloughs.

"Because we're paying these people back pay anyway, we might as well have them working," he said.

Comment Policy
Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

Some news is free.
Exceptional journalism takes time, effort and your support.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

articles remaining
×
Thank you for your interest in local journalism.
Gain unlimited access, 50% fewer ads and a faster browsing experience.