Civilian military workers back on the job in Colo.

COLORADO SPRINGS — Nearly 3,000 civilian military workers furloughed because of the federal government shutdown have been told to return to work.

The Gazette reported that at least 2,650 workers at Fort Carson, the Air Force Academy and Peterson Air Force Base received notice this weekend to return to work starting Monday. In addition, 130 civilian workers were also working again at the Pueblo Chemical Depot.

Congress passed a bill hours before the government shutdown to exempt civilian military workers but many were furloughed anyway. U.S. Reps. Mike Coffman and Doug Lamborn and others pushed the Defense Department to reverse that. On Sunday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said government lawyers have advised that the law didn’t permit an across-the-board furlough of civilian employees and more personnel can be exempted as essential under the law.

“Ultimately, the surest way to end these damaging and irresponsible furloughs, and enable us to fulfill our mission as a department, is for Congress to pass a budget and restore funds for the entire federal government,” Hagel said.

Two-thirds of the employees at the Air Force Academy were furloughed because of the shutdown, which Air Force Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson said was “tremendously disruptive.”

“While the progress to bring back more than 950 people is encouraging, our thoughts go out to our teammates who are still at home without pay,” she said in a statement.

The 1,000 workers called back to work at Fort Carson are all the post’s civilian employees. At Peterson Air Force Base, 700 employees of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and Northern Command, were told to return to work.

Colorado Springs has 13,500 federal civilian employees and about half were furloughed without pay during the shutdown.


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