Civilian employees at Beaufort military bases called back to work

dburley@islandpacket.comOctober 7, 2013 

Most civilian employees at Beaufort military bases furloughed during the government shutdown will return to work by Tuesday after a U.S. Department of Defense order, according to spokesmen at the bases.

Almost all services and facilities on the bases that closed during the partial shutdown that began Oct. 1 also will reopen, according to news releases from the bases.

All but one of the 698 employees put on leave last week at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort have been called back.

The only worker not returning is a community relations officer who works in the public affairs office at Parris Island, Gunnery Sgt. Bill Lisbon said.

Furloughed workers at the bases included electricians, air traffic controllers, maintenance workers and staff at Parris Island's history museum.

The workers were furloughed last week as part of the ongoing shutdown. Active military members were not affected.

The employee recall comes after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Saturday that a legal review of the Pay Our Military Act, signed by President Barack Obama on the eve of the shutdown, would allow him to bring most civilians back to work this week.

"The Department of Defense and Department of Justice attorneys concluded that the law does allow the Department of Defense to eliminate furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members," Hagel said in a news release.

Of the 442 civilian employees on Parris Island, 291 were furloughed.

The air station sent home 177 federal employees, along with 230 Marine Corps Community Service workers at the station and Parris Island.

Though back at work, the employees will not be paid until a budget resolution to end the federal government shutdown is passed, according to Sue Partridge, president of the local American Federation of Government Employees union.

"We're very excited to be back at work," Partridge said. "Other agencies aren't as lucky as we are. And we'll be paid. We just don't know when."

Services on the bases that will reopen Tuesday include the commissaries, base theaters, fitness-center classes, libraries and family-related programs.

It was unclear, however, whether Catholic Mass would resume at the air station.

Mass was canceled Sunday as part of the shutdown, Sgt. Marcy Sanchez said.

Like many military bases, the air station hires a civilian priest to administer its weekly 9 a.m. service.

The Rev. Bob Galinac, who delivered Mass at the base for more than six years before retiring Sept. 29, said that 100 to 120 people regularly attend the service.

The Rev. Casmir Maduator currently serves at the priest for both bases. He said he delivered mass to Parris Island recruits Sunday, but not at the air station.

On Monday, Maduator said he was told he should not return to either base until the shutdown is resolved.

Sanchez said no other base religious services were affected by the shutdown.

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