Looming Furloughs at Westover, Barnes

The Pentagon announced this week furloughs for up to 11 days for civilian employees at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts are scheduled to begin July 8th. Air Reserve spokesman First Lieutenant Andre Bowser says the furloughs, which are the result of federal spending cuts — or sequestration — will affect more than 700 workers at the base.

“That includes about 450 dual-status what’s called air force reserve technicians. These are individuals who are reservists as well as civilian employees.”

The 11 furlough days are half the number originally planned and Bowser says the affected employees will have some flexibility in how they take the unpaid days off based on the needs of the base. With careful planning, he says, base officials are hoping to minimize any disruption on operational readiness.

“This is a less active time, but obviously training is key in what we do. And we’ll have to continue to train but we’ll have to do it and kind of stretch out and do it with fewer resources and fewer people over a longer time.”

Westover is one of the largest employers in the greater Springfield area, accounting for more than $237 million in 2011. About 600 civilian workers at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield are also being furloughed.