JBLM workers stay home as sequestration cuts take hold

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. -- Friday was the first mandatory "day off" for thousands of civilian employees at Joint Base Lewis McChord.

The furlough days were made necessary by federal sequestration cuts.

Among those taking an unwanted day off on Friday was Matt Hines, who works at JBLM's processing building. Joining him at home was his wife, Lori, a book keeper at JBLM.

"I suspect some people are going to lose their homes over this," Matt said.

Both Matt and Lori were told not to come to work on Friday, and together they say they're going to lose 40 percent of their combined income over the next three months.

"Almost $1,300 a month that we're going to lose," Matt said.

And they're far from the only people losing money. Roughly 10,000 civilians who work at the base have been told to take one unpaid day off per week for the next 11 weeks.

About 6,700 of those workers stayed home on Friday.

"I'd like to see anybody from congress give up 20 percent of their paycheck, see how it affects them," Matt said.

The fire department will remain open, but there are still concerns.

"It's definitely a safety issue with the reduced staff of the firefighters," said Scott Powers of the Firefighters Union. "We won't be able to make responses like we normally do."

The emergency room at Madigan Army Medical Center will also remain open, but much of the base was shut down on Friday. It will be the same next Friday and for many Fridays to come.

As bad as it is for Matt and Lori, it's not their furlough situation that bothers them the most. They worry more about their son, who also work at JBLM at the entry gate.

"To say you can't work because they can't get the budget figured out, yeah I'm angry, I'm hurt, I'm feeling all sorts of stuff," Lori said.

In addition to the 10,000 affected JBLM workers, another 5,000 Navy employees are facing the same thing at Naval Air Station Whidbey.