Thousands of Pearl Harbor shipyard face furloughs amid shutdown
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The civilian employees at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard say feel like pawns in a power struggle on Capitol Hill.
Once again, they face the possibility of being furloughed amid a federal government shutdown.
"The federal workers are just tired of it already. We go through this every year," said Arnold Pang, vice president of the Hawaii Federal Employees Metal Trades Council.
During the 2013 government shutdown, about 3,000 shipyard workers designated as non-essential personnel were furloughed. Thousands of them once again face the same prospect of no work and no pay.
"There's a lot of people that go from paycheck to paycheck," Pang said. "With this shutdown people don't know how they're going to eat, how they're going to pay their bills."
Jamie Hiranaka, president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, said unless the government passes a spending bill union members at numerous facilities statewide will be sidelined. That would be 42 percent of the shipyard's 7,000 workers.
"All of the federal agencies were shut down midnight Friday. It they're essential they did have to come in Saturday and Sunday. The majority of the work force will be coming in on Monday and scheduled to receive their furlough letters Monday," she said.
Pang said a furlough would affect up to 2,000 shipyard workers represented by the Metal Trades Council. Plus, 125 apprentices will get a furlough notice on their first day on the job.
"We're being used as chess pieces to get what Congress wants according to their agenda," he said.
"It is unfair that the federal workers have to suffer because of the dysfunction that is going on on the Hill," Hiranaka said.
Throughout a shutdown essential workers at the shipyard must continue doing their work, but their paychecks will be delayed.
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