Connecticut's congressional delegation is supporting thousands of United Technologies Corporation (UTC) workers facing imminent furlough because of the government shutdown. Earlier this week the delegation urged the Defense Department to use any tool at its disposal to prevent the furloughs. Today the delegation was informed by UTC that around 300 Connecticut workers at Sikorsky who would have been furloughed Monday will be able to stay on the job for now. Unfortunately, that leaves over a thousand workers who will still be forced out of a job due to no fault of their own.
"While this slightly lessens the blow, over 1,000 of our constituents will soon find themselves unable to come to work due to the intransigence of a small minority in one half of one branch of Congress," the delegation said in a joint statement. "If the shutdown continues, even more will find themselves out of work. American families cannot afford this shutdown, and they deserve better. They want to get back to work. This Republican shutdown must end."
Earlier today the delegation sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, asking him to use any legal flexibility he may have to put defense inspectors back to work. The absence of those inspectors is what is causing the mass furloughs at Sikorsky, and possibly other UTC companies, if the shutdown continues. The full letter to Secretary Hagel follows:
October 4, 2013
The Honorable Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000
Dear Secretary Hagel,
As you may be aware, this week United Technologies announced the largest furlough of private employees of any defense manufacturer to date impacted by the harmful effects of the ongoing shutdown of our government. Up to 5,000 employees may be furloughed in the coming days.
This action was attributed to the absence of inspectors from the Defense Contracting Management Agency (DCMA). These inspectors are required to audit and approve parts and operations throughout the manufacturing process for military products. Despite their critical role and responsibility, the DCMA inspectors have largely been deemed non-excepted federal employees. These workers support the warfighter and maintain our national security by ensuring the highest quality of equipment like the helicopters made in Stratford or the fighter jet engines made in Middletown, as well as key components manufactured by their sub-tier suppliers across the country.
The law guiding a shutdown of the federal government provides only narrow exceptions. The best way to resolve this crisis is to have Congress swiftly pass the continuing resolution. Absent that action, we urge you to use any and all flexibility you may have, including the authority contained in Public Law 113-39, the "Pay our Military" Act, to put back to work these DCMA inspectors that provide critical support to members of the Armed Forces. We understand from speaking with the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology and Logistics that even if these DCMA employees return to work they may be limited in the duties they can perform, given the absence of necessary funding for the Department of Defense for Fiscal Year 2014. Therefore, we also respectfully request that any unobligated Operations and Maintenance funds from Fiscal Year 2013 be dedicated to specifically provide for these DCMA inspectors.
Such action is necessary to support our national defense, the working men and women suffering through the furloughs and for our nation's economy.
We deeply appreciate your leadership during this budget crisis. We look forward to working with you to resolve our nation's fiscal challenges in a way that allows us to meet our national security obligations.