ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE -- The 600 job cuts planned at Robins Air Force Base this year could go higher under a new local initiative.
The base announced Wednesday that it would include the 402nd Maintenance Wing in its offers to provide incentives for employees to quit or retire. Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon, commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, said Thursday the inclusion of the 402nd is a local initiative that is separate from the Air Force-dictated initiative driving the 600 cuts.
Exactly how many more jobs that might include, however, is uncertain. McMahon declined to give even a general idea, saying it depends largely on details of President Obama’s budget, which are expected to be released soon.
The base also is conducting an analysis to determine where jobs can be cut in the maintenance wing, which employs more than 8,000 people and does much of the most visible work at Robins.
McMahon made the comments in a round-table discussion with local media Thursday.
The Air Force is offering about $25,000 for employees to retire or quit if they are not retirement eligible.
“The bottom line with both of these efforts, that I want to underscore, is that our goal is to voluntarily allow folks to leave civil service as opposed to having to go through some mandated reduction in force,” McMahon said.
In an initial round of buyouts that began in November, 238 applications were accepted and those employees were off the payroll by the end of the year. The base started a second round of buyouts Monday, and employees now have until Jan. 29 to apply. If accepted, they would leave by April 20.
McMahon hopes to meet the 600 target in the second round. If the number falls short, however, he said discussions would then have to be held with Air Force Materiel Command and the Air Force to determine whether layoffs would be needed. Having a third round of buyouts could also be a possibility, he said.
So far, the buyout effort may be having little impact on the midstate economy. Of the 238 people who separated in the first round, all but two of those were retiring, according to Max Wyche, the base personnel director. McMahon pointed out the retirees would still be drawing a check and contributing to the economy.
He also stated the 85 new jobs to be created at Robins as the result of the sale of F-15s to Saudi Arabia will be filled within a year. In one respect, he said, it does not impact the buyouts because it falls under separate funding. But he said some people in positions that can be eliminated under the cost-cutting effort, but do not want to retire, may be able to move to the F-15 Saudi jobs if their expertise fits.
The 600 job cuts is the result of an overall effort by the Air Force to reduce its civilian work force by 16,500. While the Air Force is requiring Robins to reduce 452 authorized positions -- some of which are vacant -- base officials have set the goal of reducing the payroll by 600 to meet budget targets. McMahon said he expects a high number of people to apply for the buyouts in the second round because it will be more inclusive than the first round, which was targeted more to particular areas.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.