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Furloughs pinch local defense workers' pocketbooks

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TWC News: Furloughs pinch local defense workers' pocketbooks
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A group of Federal Employee Union representatives went door to door in Killeen on Monday to make sure business owners are well aware of what's happening.

About 2,000 workers from the Texas National Guard – half of them living locally -- will take 11 furlough days.

"It is tough on all of us around here," Walter Greely Jr., an American Federation of Government employee, said.

The unpaid time off translates into a significant dip in salary for each employee. It's a cut in pay that union reps fear will trickle down to local businesses. Now workers are encouraging business owners to speak out.

"You know the saying, so Fort Hood goes, so does the economy," Todd Deneve, a local store owner, said.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz was on Post earlier this month and addressed the furloughs.

"I can tell you in the meantime, what I have been focused very much on, is making sure that the state of Texas does not bear a disproportionate portion of the reductions coming through sequestration,” Cruz said. “At least to date, we have not seen evidence of that happening."

More than 650,000 defense department workers across the country will be forced to take one unpaid day off each week through the end of September, part of $85 billion in federal spending cuts.

"We as federal employees are going to continue to fight this because it doesn't help us it hurts us,” Greely said. “We have already been in a pay freeze for the past three years."

While the cuts will affect each agency in a different way, a spokesperson for the National Guard said it will still be able to respond to emergencies, it will just be harder.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the furlough period back in May. The furloughs are expected to save close to $2 billion, a fraction of the $40 billion that defense has to cut.

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