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Not all shipyard workers will be exempted from furloughs

KITTERY, Maine — About 1,300 of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard's 6,000 employees will not be excused from furloughs, union officials learned Thursday.

Paul O'Connor said about 4,700 NAV SEA employees directly charged with nuclear maintenance are exempted from the mandatory, unpaid days off, but 1,300 NAV FAC and secondary support staff are not.

Furlough days have been reduced to 11 or fewer and are scheduled to begin on July 8 for the non-exempted employees.

The shipyard was informed earlier this week that all civilian employees at the nation's four public shipyards would be excepted from furloughs. Furloughs are being proposed as the Department of Defense and every other federal agency tries to deal with automatic budget cuts associated with sequestration.

Paul O'Connor, president of the Metal Trades Council at the shipyard, said one furloughed federal employee is one too many. His union does not represent the 1,300 non-excepted shipyard workers, who are represented by a union in Virginia, but he said they will still fight for those employees.

"Incrementally things are getting better, but for those impacted, it does not get better," O'Connor said.

He said the employees impacted work in various departments, including supply, public works and transportation.

"People you would think should be here while the rest of us are here working on the submarines, but that was a decision that was made way beyond this shipyard, and that is how it is at all four public shipyards," O'Connor said.

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