U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL Dist. 2) is urging President Barack Obama to keep defense contractors operational in the wake of the federal government shutdown after it was learned that Sikorsky, a military contractor with a plant in Roby's district, may have to start furloughing workers.
[DOCUMENT: Rep. Roby's letter to President Obama]
Sikorsky operates a plant in Troy that builds the airframe for the MH-60R and S-70B SEAHAWK helicopters as well as combines large sections of the MH-60S SEAHAWK along with subassembly and major assembly on the UH-60M BLACK HAWK helicopter.
Roby says employees of the Troy plant could be impacted by furloughs and is asking the president to enforce H.R. 3210, the Pay Our Military Act, that was recently enacted to insure the work of key civilian military personnel is not interrupted.
For now, Sikorsky spokesman Paul Jackson tell WSFA 12 News the Troy plant will remain on normal operation next week. That could change if the shutdown continues.
"The situation remains fluid due to the nature of this crisis," Jackson said. "We now expect operations in Troy to be normal at least next week. We are continuing to work with our elected officials and DOD customer and do all we can to meet schedules by making adjustments when and where we can..."
Jackson says Sikorsky has notified at least 2,000 of its employees that they will be affected by temporary layoffs unless the government reopens by Monday, Oct. 7. If the shutdown lasts another week, Sikorsky will be forced to add another 1,000 employees to the list of layoffs.
Jackson would not disclose the number of potential layoffs by plant location.
"We understand the dynamics and how things can change from moment to moment," said Troy Mayor Jason Reeves, "but as of now, we are thrilled this furlough does not have any effect on us. When and if things change, we will address them at that time."
As part of the shutdown, inspectors with the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) were furloughed. They must perform inspections on each helicopter as well as oversee the chopper's acceptance and delivery to every branch of the military, Jackson said. "Without them we cannot proceed with producing helicopters for the U.S. Department of Defense."
"I would be shocked if the Secretary of Defense really believes the inspectors charged with ensuring our Seahawk helicopter coming off the line are safe and up to specification are not ‘providing support to members of the Armed Forces," Rep. Roby said. "That's why today I wrote President Obama urging him to see this law properly carried out so that workers will can remain on the job in Troy."
"It was our original intent to authorize funding for civilian military personnel in the ‘Pay our Military Act.' However, I support bringing forward additional legislation if necessary that would end any civilian military furloughs initiated by the shutdown once and for all," Rep. Roby said. "There is plenty the two sides don't agree on in Congress. But, we should all agree that those who work in support of our military should be able to get back to work."
Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.
1720 Valley View Drive