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Furloughs begin for 10K Indiana civilian defense workers

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Unpaid furlough days have begun for more than 10,000 civilian defense workers in Indiana affected by the automatic federal budget cuts.

The furloughs began Monday under the congressional budget stalemate that brings the automatic spending cuts. The affected workers are facing 11 unpaid furlough days this summer.

The workers are being asked to take their days off on Mondays and Fridays, according to The Indianapolis Star.

Blake Johnson, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., said the furloughs affect 3,100 Navy employees and 800 Army workers at Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center in southern Indiana.

Another 4,000 civilians who work at the Defense Finance and Accounting Services center in the Marion County city of Lawrence, are also affected. That center handles payrolls for the Pentagon.

Lawrence Mayor Dean Jessup said the two furloughed days per week at accounting centers are certain to have significant effects on the commercial and retail industry in the community of about 46,000 residents, even though most of the center's employees don't live in Lawrence.

"It's our largest employer, so that would have an impact on our eateries and our places of business here," Jessup said.

"The economy will be impacted when that many man-hours and money are taken away, no matter what," he said.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has outlined a plan to furlough a total of about 650,000 civilian employees for 11 days, starting this week and running through the end of September.

Carson's office said the arrival of the first furlough day this week prompted a flurry of requests to Congress and Hagel for politicians and federal unions to find ways to avoid the temporary layoffs.

"We need a budget compromise that replaces sequestration, creates jobs, strengthens the middle class, and responsibly reduces the deficit," Carson said in a prepared statement.

A bipartisan group of 31 House lawmakers sent a recent letter to Hagel questioning why he was furloughing 180,000 civilian defense employees nationwide whose salaries are financed through capital funds and not the direct congressional appropriations that are affected by federal sequestration.

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