Furlough Ends for Most Civilian Employees at 139th

Furlough Ends for Most Civilian Employees at 139th

Legal ruling will allow all but 18 civilian employees at the 139th Airlift Wing to return to work Tuesday.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Some good news came from Washington concerning the government shutdown.

"We've started a recall of all our civil servants back to the base to resume as normal duties in this without a budget," said Mike Pankau, Commander of the 139th Airlift Wing located in St. Joseph.

Employees started hearing the news over the weekend and will return to work on Tuesday.

During the furlough it's been only the sound of strong winds on the barren runways and not the roar of aircraft engines. Parking lots on base have also been empty. However, that will soon change.

"We will be back to normal training," Pankau said. "We have an upcoming deployment in two weeks."

A federal ruling on the classification of the civilian employees is opening the way for the workers to return.

Pankau says at the 139th, there is no difference between the military personnel and their civilian counterparts.

"Civil servants out here do the same exact mission as their counterpart that are active duty," he said.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says civilians who are connected to military operations and the safety of life and property can return to work. Of the 205 total civilian workers at the 139th Airlift Wing, all but 18 fall into this category.

"Aircraft maintenance, aviators, instructor pilots, all the crew positions," Pankau said, listing the categories of employees returning. Also included are supply workers and contractors.

Tuesday is a new beginning at the 139th. Commander Pankau says seeing everyone back at work will be a welcome sight.

"The 139th Airlift Wing is a family so it's a good feeling to see them coming back out here," Pankau said.

Pankau says the 139th is getting well-versed with the ways of Washington, D.C.

"We've faced the fiscall cliff, furlough, sequestration, all this by different names five times in the last two and a half years," he said.

There is an effort in Congress to get back pay for those workers who have been affected by the furlough.

Commander Pankau is still trying to get some clarification on how much flying they'll be able to do. There are still heavy restrictions on spending.
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