Air Force unit at Scott to cut 99 civilian, military jobs

News-DemocratApril 4, 2014 

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A sign welcomes visitors through the Belleville Gate entrance at Scott Air Force Base.

SSGT CHAD R. GANN, USAF — Chad R. Gann, USAF

Air Force cost-cutting and reorganization efforts led the Air Force Network Integration Center to cut 43 percent of its jobs at Scott Air Force Base, resulting in the loss of 99 positions in the unit by next year.

The total includes 53 civilian jobs with annual salaries of $90,000 or more.

Col. Amy Arwood, AFNIC's commander, announced the job reductions during a commander's call Thursday morning, according to Doug Mehring, presidents of the Scott bargaining unit of the National Association of Government Employee. The group represents some AFNIC civilian employees.

Mehring said that as union chief there is little he can do to challenge the civilian job cuts.

"It's pretty well cut-and-dried," he said. "Everything's being cut."

Mehring plans to meet with Arwood next week to discuss the job cuts, he said.

It remains unclear how many people will leave their jobs, or "go out the gate," versus those who will be retrained for other Air Force units, Mehring said.

"It all depends on how they set it up," he said.

Jobs affected by the cuts include those in middle-level management, staff, and policy consultation, according to Andy Roake, a spokesman for the Air Force Space Command, based at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

Civilians in affected positions will be eligible for either the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority or the Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay programs.

Involuntary separations, or reduction in force actions, will be used as a last resort. Military members in affected position will be re-assigned to other positions across the Air Force.

AFNIC personnel reductions stem from budget constraints, Roake wrote.

"This is a tough time for the Air Force where we're having to make tough choices for a smaller future Air Force," he wrote.

However, the Air Force "continues to use every available force management tool and maximize voluntary programs to shape the force," Roake wrote. "Unfortunately we may still need to use involuntary programs to meet project manpower requirements."

Nearly a year ago, AFNIC eliminated 33 civilian jobs at Scott when a contract with their civilian employer ended.

The Air Force recently announced plans to cut 22,500 airmen this year, or nearly 8 percent of its total.

At Scott, the St. Louis region's biggest employer, 2,160 airmen out of 5,500 -- nearly 40 percent of active duty military -- are either eligible for voluntary separation or "are vulnerable for one of the involuntary boards," base spokeswoman Karen Pettit said in February.

These numbers "will fluctuate monthly as the Air Force receives the voluntary separation and retirement requests during the next several months," Pettit said in a statement.

The biggest cuts are planned for security personnel.

Current Air Force plans call for selecting nearly 4,000 enlisted security airmen, or 15 percent of Air Force-wide security forces, for involuntary separation, according to documents the Air Force Personnel Center has released.

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