UPDATED: National Guard, shipyard in NH recalling more than 300 furloughed workers
By GRETYL MACALASTER Union Leader Correspondent and PAT GROSSMITH New Hampshire Union Leader October 07. 2013 8:19PM
The New Hampshire National Guard and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard have recalled most guardsmen and shipyard workers furloughed by the federal government shutdown Oct. 1.
About 309 New Hampshire National Guardsmen — 192 from the Army National Guard and 117 Air National Guard — reported to work at their normal duty time and location Monday. Another 30 guardsmen on temporary full-time order remain furloughed.
“We are still operating in a very unstable environment,” Maj. Gen. William Reddel said Monday.
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, also announced Monday that most furloughed workers were called back to work.
About 1,500 shipyard workers were furloughed last Tuesday. The remaining estimated 3,000 workers were required to work with a promise — but no guarantee — of being paid when the government re-opens. Paul O’Connor, president of the Metal Trades Council at the shipyard, said their pay status remains unclear.
Reddel said his decision to recall furloughed guardsmen — most of whom are military technicians — was based on new guidance from U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel concerning the implementation of the Pay Our Military Act or POMA.
Reddel praised the recall, but warned conditions here and nationally remain uncertain.
“With the lack of appropriated funds for the new fiscal year, we face serious shortfalls in operation and maintenance budgets. Our training and readiness will be adversely affected,” added Reddel, who is adjutant general of the New Hampshire National Guard.
Eventually, money will run out to pay utility bills for such basic services as water and electricity or fuel, Reddel said. Purchases of replacement parts will be postponed.
“We would have to shut down our operations and close armories,” Reddel said. “I would have to send my recalled soldiers and airmen home again.”
Sen. Kelly Ayotte sent a letter to the Forest Service chief Monday objecting to a directive that threatens to close 22 privately owned campgrounds this week that contract with the federal government in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest.
“While the shutdown is harming private tourism-based businesses near federal lands, I am concerned that the Forest Service is unfairly targeting private businesses with which it contracts — even though those businesses are independently operated,” the Republican wrote to Tom Tidwell.
The U.S. District Court in Concord has not been affected by the shutdown to date, according to the clerk’s office.
But prosecutors and legal support staff at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Concord are undergoing revolving furloughs since Oct. 1, U.S. Attorney for New Hampshire John P. Kacavas said.
An initial round of 19 criminal and civil prosecutors and support staff were placed on revolving furloughs for two days each last week, he said.
Another 17 to 22 will undergo revolving furloughs this week. In the short term, the furloughs have not affected the office’s ability to prosecute cases, he said.
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff Writer Kathryn Marchocki contributed to this report.