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By Andrea Agardy, staff writer
The government unlocked its doors Thursday after 16 days, reopening national parks and monuments, restoring services and sending hundreds of thousands of federal employees back to work.
The announcement came as eagerly anticipated news at AEDC, where the base’s operating contactor, ATA, had encouraged employees to use their accrued vacation time while telling others to stay home until the matter was resolved.
ATA employees who received “do not report” notices were split into two groups. On Oct. 11, roughly 100 employees notified on Friday have been told not to come back to work “until the government crisis ends.” The second group of 300 employees was told to take a week off with the expectation of being called back to work on Oct. 21 when a new round of testing is slated to begin.
“We’ve already received word from the AEDC Council allowing us to recall employees who were sent home because of inadequate funding,” Kathy Gattis, ATA’s public affairs director, said on Thursday morning. “Return to work Friday is voluntary and there are some guidelines ATA will discuss with employees as we do our call down, but basically all fund codes are now approved to return to work and we are thrilled about that.
“People are happy the government has reached an agreement and we’re ready to get back to the work of testing the nation’s aerospace systems,” she said.
According to Gattis, the earliest ATA employees will report back to work was Friday, with the majority of the staff expected to return Monday morning. ATA employees who did not have vacation time available will not receive any back pay because they are government contractors, not federal employees.
Employees on the government payroll at AEDC were spared the weeks-long furloughs so many other federal employees were forced to take. When the shutdown began on Oct. 1, 56 civilian employees were sent home, only to be recalled several days later when U.S. Department of Defense [DOD] officials concluded the Pay Our Military Act (POMA) allowed them to resume their jobs. As part of the agreement to end the shutdown, federal employees will receive back pay.
“Our DOD civilian employees were shielded from a lot of this, but our contractors weren’t,” said Jason Austin, AEDC director of public affairs. “We’re a contractor-operated base and this impacts us all and it impacts the mission.”…
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