Cuts spur layoffs at Fort Greely

Posted: Sunday, June 04, 2006

FAIRBANKS - Army budget cuts have prompted the layoffs of at least 50 civilian contract workers at Fort Greely and another 160 positions are threatened.

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Before the budget tightening, the Army said Fort Greely employed about 1,000 civilians, including contract workers.

The Army said in a statement Friday it is working with its two major contractors at the post, Kaya Associates and Chugach Alutiiq, to ensure the health and safety of people there "are not compromised."

Fort Greely, about 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks, houses missile interceptors for the national missile defense system. It has about 200 military personnel, plus another 200 family members, according to the Army.

Barney Uhart, chief executive of Chugach Alaska Corp., said 49 workers in a joint venture with Alutiiq were laid off a month ago.

"We are in the process of another round now," he said.

Before the layoffs, Chugach Alutiiq employed about 250 people at Fort Greely, Uhart said. The workers are members of the Laborers' International Union.

According to the Army statement, the coming round of layoffs could cut 160 positions on Monday.

"Fort Greely, like other Army garrisons, has recently been directed to restrict spending on noncritical activities," the statement said. "It has taken steps to respond to current and future funding guidelines."

Uhart said he was told the shortfall was "apparently due to diversion of dollars to the global war on terrorism."

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a supplemental defense spending bill for the current fiscal year in March and the Senate passed it in early May. But the two versions haven't been reconciled.

Uhart said money in the supplemental bill may provide the means to reinstate some of the employees, but he's not sure. People who are laid off would be at the top of the list for rehire, he said.

Chugach Alutiiq's contract at Fort Greely was worth about $20 million last year, and this year's contract is similar. It's a cost-reimbursable arrangement, where the military asks for tasks to be completed, Uhart said.

The Army didn't tell Chugach Alutiiq to save a specific amount of money, but asked it to stop performing certain tasks.

The cuts appear to target areas such as facilities maintenance, supply and transportation, Uhart said.

Kaya is teamed up with Arctic Slope Technical Services Inc., a subsidiary of the Arctic Slope Regional Corp.

Chugach, Alutiiq and ASRC are Alaska Native companies that have expanded into government services in recent years, partly through bidding and contracting preferences secured by Alaska's congressional delegation.

Uhart said his company is feeling the budget pinch at military installations across the nation.

"We're seeing it happen everywhere. It's not unique to the Army," he said.

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Information from: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com



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