NEW: Almost 3,000 Tinker employees furloughed in government shutdown

Posted on: 6:29 am, October 1, 2013, by , updated on: 07:34pm, October 1, 2013

According to Tinker, “Functions essential to national security and public safety will continue, however activities that are not expressly authorized by statute, necessary to discharge presidential powers, or considered necessary for the safety of human life and protection of property, including operations essential to our national security, will be discontinued and the civilians employed to accomplish these functions will be furloughed until an appropriation bill or CR is enacted.”

MIDWEST CITY, Okla — This morning, when Tinker Air Force Base employees showed up for work, 2,900 of them were told to leave until further notice.

Some of them went to the local union office to picket demanding that elected officials end the political in-fighting so they can go back to work.

Some also spent the day calling and e-mailing local and federal legislatures. For some employees, they say their check from Tinker is the only income for their household.

“They’re making a joke out of our country and it not acceptable,” And it’s no laughing matter says Eric Puente a Tinker employee and single father of four.

“It’s very frustrating, we elect these officials to represent us as constituents and they use us as a bargaining chip to get their own way,” Puente says.

Puente is worried about another number; 86, that’s the number of days until Christmas.

“With daycare expense and everything else, I don’t know how else to explain to them that dad can’t provide for them the basic needs; its harder and harder,” said Puente.

Officials say 8,000 “working capital funded employees” who are considered essential staff will run out of money by friday. But they would still have to work until a budget is reached.

“Its going to be a nightmare for those folks I think,” said James Schmidt President of American Federation of Government Employees. “I feel really bad for the folks who are sent home because they’re not going to get paid. But also I feel bad for those who come out here, continue to work and continue to incur all of those expense of gas, lunch and everything else and to not get a paycheck; that’s demoralizing.”

During the Sequester this past spring, Tinker employees had six mandatory furlough days and officials say the state took a $40 million dollar direct hit because of it.
Furlough protestors