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Letter to Honorable Charles T. Hagel, Secretary of Defense - Civilian Furloughs


Location: Washington, DC

Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) led a bipartisan group of 16 lawmakers in questioning the recent decision of the Department of Defense (DOD) to give American taxpayer-funded pay increases for Germans working at American military bases overseas while at the same time continuing furloughs of American Department of Defense (DOD) civilian workers here at home and abroad.

Stars and Stripes recently reported that German nationals working for the U.S. military in Germany are all but assured a pay raise, including a one-time lump sum payment at the very same time American defense employees are being furloughed. 18,000 German workers paid by the DOD at Army and Air Force bases across Germany will see pay increases of 30 euros ($40) a month starting in January of 2014. These German workers will also get a lump sum 500-euro ($670) payment in July and an additional paid holiday on December 31st. The deal will become final on July 2nd if there are no objections to the deal on either side.

At the same time, this is the third consecutive year U.S. DOD civilians have not received a pay increase, and are also facing furloughs that will cut 20 percent of their income through the end of September.

In a letter to Secretary Hagel, the bipartisan members of Congress, led by Bustos, said they found it "extremely disturbing that the Department of Defense is proceeding with plans to furlough their civilian workforce while at the same time giving an American taxpayer-funded pay raise to foreign national employees in Germany."


June 25, 2013

The Honorable Charles T. Hagel
Secretary of Defense
100 Defense Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301-1000

Dear Secretary Hagel,

We understand that Congress' inability to address our long-term fiscal challenges is forcing all the armed forces to make tough decisions. However, we find it extremely disturbing that the Department of Defense is proceeding with plans to furlough their civilian workforce while at the same time giving an American taxpayer-funded pay raise to foreign national employees in Germany.

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, which became law on March 26, 2013, gave the Department of Defense the flexibility and funding necessary to prevent resorting to furloughs of hardworking Americans. While we are disappointed that this flexibility granted to you was not used to avoid furloughs, it is even more shocking that at the same time you are furloughing Americans you are also increasing compensation to foreign workers.

We would also like to point out that those same Americans have not seen a pay increase for three years.

Because you continue to allow furloughs to go forward, the DOD civilian workforce will see a 20 percent decrease in their monthly salary over the coming months. This could cause highly-skilled potential employees to reconsider a career as a DOD civilian, especially given the appearance of foreign workers taking priority over dedicated Americans.

While we understand the importance of the foreign national workforce at our installations overseas, we urge you to put American workers first. We do not see the fairness in this proposed course of action and ask that you again reconsider the furloughs of American DOD employees.

Long term pay freezes and furloughs should not go forward while a proposal to increase pay for German workers by $40 per month, including a lump sum payment of $670, is being worked out.

We respectfully ask that the DOD please explain why you are giving pay raises to foreign national employees in Germany while furloughs continue for hardworking Americans. The continuing resolution that allows additional funding and flexibility was passed to help eliminate the impact of the sequester on Americans, not to provide pay increases for Germans. Please provide an explanation within 10 working days as to why this decision was made.


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