Furloughs hit civilian workers at San Antonio Military Medical Center

Workers in 5th week of forced time off without pay

Author: Tim Gerber , Reporter, tgerber@ksat.com
Published On: Aug 07 2013 09:52:02 PM CDT   Updated On: Aug 08 2013 02:19:50 AM CDT
SAN ANTONIO -

Civilians working for the Department of Defense got some good news this week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced their forced furlough days were being cut from 11 days to just 6 days.

The decision came as roughly 650,000 civilian workers started their fifth week of furloughs.

While 6 days is much better than the 22 furlough days originally planned by the government, the news wasn't exactly welcomed by Sherry Johnson. She's been a civil service worker for 24 years, spending the past 17 working at the San Antonio Military Medical Center.

"With me it's $266 a payday," Johnson said referring to the amount of money deducted from her pay check. "Some people say that's not much money but it is whenever you live pay day to pay day."

The 20 percent pay cut isn't the only thing impacting her personal finances, she said they haven't had a cost of living increase in over 4 years and bonuses are a distant memory.

She's had to take out loans and borrow money from relatives to scrape by.

"I have medical expenses, I can't do, I have things around the house that need fixed," Johnson said. "And the cost of our insurance, medical, gas utilities, everything is raising up."

Even so, she's better off than some of her fellow SAMMC employees who make minimum wage.

Johnson said while the quality of care at SAMMC hasn't been impacted, the furloughs are taking a toll.

"I can tell you honestly morale is very low, people are tired," Johnson said. "They keep telling us do more with less, people are quitting over this. They're finding better jobs, they're finding jobs where they're going to get paid the same or equal or more and not be furloughed."

Johnson puts the blame on the President and Congress and hopes Americans will remember this in the next big election.

"If (politicians) can't perform then you're not going to get back into office and we'll find someone who can perform," Johnson said. "As long as we sit down and say nothing and do nothing, nothing is going to happen." 

For a list of recent stories Tim Gerber has done, click here.