Air Force to cut 900 civilian jobs; impact on Robins undetermined

jmink@macon.comDecember 12, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- The Air Force will cut about 900 civilian positions next year to meet the demands of a tight fiscal 2014 budget.

Of the 900 reductions, about 217 will come from the Air Force Materiel Command, which is made up of 10 installations. The Materiel Command includes a majority of Robins Air Force Base’s civilian employees, base spokesman David Donato said in an e-mail. About 15,000 civilians are employed at Robins.

The specific number of reductions at Robins has not yet been determined, he said.

The Air Force has not planned a furlough for 2014 but will maintain about 7,000 vacancies. The Department of Defense is planning to cut the number of airmen by 25,000 over the next five years, according to the release.

The Air Force plans to offer early retirement to eligible employees and incentive pay for those who volunteer to leave. Under the plan, employees can get up to $25,000 if they voluntarily leave their positions.

As the Robins community prepares for workforce cuts next year and a possible Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 2017, retired Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon discussed the future of Robins during Thursday’s Perry State of the Community luncheon.

“It depends,” he said when asked how the base’s future looks.

A potential BRAC is a real threat to the base, and its future depends on how the community and the base responds, said McMahon, president of the 21st Century Partnership.

First, the base needs to be more productive and reduce operating costs to be more competitive. Additionally, a better relationship needs to be established between the union and leadership, which already is off to a good start: Grievances have been reduced by 40 percent since new union leaders recently took over, he said.

“That is a remarkable number,” he said.

The community also needs to do its part, McMahon said.

Community members can assist by simply “not being so, ‘aw shucks,’” McMahon said. “We need to brag a little bit” about Middle Georgia. That’s essential for national leaders to recognize the accomplishments and benefits of the region, he said.

The community also needs to determine how it can improve and find ways to diversify its economy. Currently the local economy depends too heavily on the base and needs some alternatives, he said.

“We can do what we need to do, work together to make those improvements,” he said. “The other choice is we don’t do anything. So, the answer truly is, it depends.”

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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