By James Beaty
McALESTER — A hiring freeze remains in effect at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant as leadership at the facility awaits further orders to see if more changes will be required due to the looming sequestration cuts, according to McAAP Public Affairs Specialist Kevin Jackson.
“Nothing has changed for us yet,” Jackson said Monday. He said McAAP has not received word to start laying off employees due to the sequester.
The base also has not starting cutting hours or days employees work due to the sequester, according to Jackson. “We’ve not been told we’re going to furlough anyone,” he said.
Sequestration refers to $1.2 trillion in automatic across-the-board spending cuts for both defense and domestic spending, set to go into effect Friday if Congress does not act before then to stop the cuts. Col.
Timothy Beckner, commander at McAAP, has taken steps to keep employees informed, according to Jackson. Four “town hall” meetings have been held with employees at the base so far this month, he said. Like much of the rest of the nation, leadership at McAAP is waiting to see if Congress and the president act before Friday, when the sequestration cuts are set to go into effect.
“We’re waiting on what’s going to happen March 1 and what headquarters will tell us about it,” Jackson said. That doesn’t necessarily mean McAAP will have to start from the beginning if the sequestration cuts do go into effect Friday. “We’ve been planning for various scenarios,” Jackson said.
Officials at McAAP have been in contact with the Rock Island Arsenal in Rock Island, Ill. The Rock Island Arsenal is part of the U. S. Army’s Joint Munitions Command. Jackson said the situation remained the same at McAAP as it had been when the News-Capital spoke to him earlier this month regarding the sequestration issue.
He maintained that so far one employee had been terminated at McAAP in relation to the pending sequestration budget cuts. With that one exception, Jackson said no other McAAP employees have been given formal notice regarding termination in connection with sequestration.
“Furloughs would be a last resort,” Jackson said earlier. “That decision would be made by the secretary of the Army.” President Barack Obama and Congress agreed to the sequestration cuts in 2011 as part of an agreement to raise the debt ceiling to keep government operating.
The idea supposedly had been to put across-the-board cuts into place that would be so drastic that the president and Congress would have to act before the sequestration went into effect, and agree on less severe cuts. So far, that hasn’t happened.
If sequestration does go into effect, there are still procedures which will be retained, according to Jackson. “We will not do anything to jeopardize safety,” Jackson said.
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