News>JBER commander hosts civilian call to discuss cuts
Air Force Col. Robert Evans, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and 673d Air Base Wing commander, speaks to Department of the Air Force civilians and military leaders during a civilian call at the Richardson Theater Tuesday. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and 3rd Wing Department of the Air Force civilians and military leaders attend a civilian call meeting at the Talkeetna Theater Tuesday. The call was convened to address any issues about the second round of civilian workforce reductions. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)
1/26/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Air Force Col. Robert Evans, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and 673d Air Base Wing commander, hosted two town hall-style meetings Tuesday to address reductions in the civilian work force at JBER.
The meetings were held in response to Air Force officials in Washington announcing a second round of cuts to JBER's civilian work force Jan. 10.
At JBER, this means the loss of 44 additional positions, Evans said, 17 of which are currently filled by JBER employees, with the remaining positions vacant.
When added to the first round of cuts announced Nov. 10, reductions have affected 70 employees at JBER.
Evans said, of the employees affected by the November cuts, approximately one third have been placed in new jobs.
To begin the first meeting at the Elmendorf Theater, Evans recognized the service members and units who train here and go overseas.
"There are more than 4,000 Soldiers and Airmen from JBER currently deployed, the largest contingent from the 4-2-5 airborne brigade (4-25th Airborne Brigade Combat Team)," Evans said. "Twelve percent of the U.S. Army Soldiers in Afghanistan are stationed in Alaska. Three out of four U.S. Army Alaska Soldiers are currently deployed. We are a nation at war. And we're a nation that's reducing the size of our military."
Evans addressed some of the reasons why reductions are happening, chief among them, the U.S. economy.
"That is the context that underpins the reductions we're talking about today," Evans said. "It doesn't make it any easier - these are agonizing decisions, decisions that are going to impact people - but I think it's important that we understand the context."
The Department of Defense ordered a reduction in the civilian work force, Evans said.
"The Air Force response to that OSD or Secretary of Defense guidance came out in a resource management directive, number 703, that directed cuts," Evans said.
RMD 703 directed a return to Fiscal Year 2010 manning levels.
"We're committed to supporting you the best way that we can as we work through this transition," Evans said.
The Air Force has implemented both the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program and the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority program to lessen the impact of the cuts. Deadline for VERA/VSIP application is Feb. 3.
According to the Civilian Personnel Office, 10 people took VSIP or VERA offers of the 19 who were offered.
Evans thanked the civilian workforce for the support they provide to troops and families.
"The civilian workforce in Alaska is magnificent," Evans said. "It's like no other civilian workforce I've seen and I mean that."
Evans turned the floor over to Dave Owens, American Federal Government Employees union, Local 1101 president.
As union president, Owens has been working since November to get answers for AFGE members about the cuts from members of Congress, as well as adding programs for affected employees, he said.
Owens explained some of the correspondence he has engaged in since the first round of cuts in November.
Angie Horn, JBER civilian personnel office chief, and Air Force Col. Ed Thomas, 673d Mission Support Group commander, spoke to the audience as well and answered questions.
"We care very deeply about each and every position," Thomas said. "And sometimes at certain levels of the organization that message doesn't get communicated very well. It's our job to take care of people and we want to take care of everybody as we take care of the mission."
Thomas encouraged civilians to be persistent in seeking information.
"Use your chain of command," Thomas continued. "If you're not getting your questions answered, if you're not getting the information you need, use your chain."
A special customer support cell has been established to take questions and track customer service efforts in seeking answers.
Horn described the CPO efforts to place those affected by the cuts.
"We are working with management to review all vacancies that are available in the work force and match people into vacant positions that are in jobs that have been identified under the RMD 703 reductions," Horn said.
Civilians with questions can call the CPO special cell at 552-3572, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The JBER website, www.jber.af.mil, hosts information on under the Featured Links/services tabs.
The official JBER Facebook also has a note dedicated to civilian reduction information.