Luke Air Force Base civilian employees face 22 day furlough - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Luke Air Force Base civilian employees face 22 day furlough

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LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. -

There could be bad news in store for civilian employees at Luke Air Force Base if congress fails to prevent automatic spending cuts from going into effect.

The so-called 'sequester' is set to take effect one week from now. The massive cuts across the board could really harm the economy.

In Arizona, nearly 65-thousand defense-related jobs are at risk, according to Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema.

The sequester could force nearly 1,000 civilian workers at Luke to take forced days off with no pay. It also may force Air Force pilots to reduce the amount of hours they spend training in the air.

Luke Air Force Base would feel it if automatic government spending cuts go into effect. 850 civilian employees would be forced to take 22 days of unpaid leave through next September.

"They're already just trying to make a living and then to have to lose more -- it's a sad thing," says Maryellen Hiler, owner of Saguaro Pizza, one block from the base.

Most Saguaro Pizza customers are from Luke -- both military and civilians -- and they're worried about potential cuts.

"Oh yes I've heard several of them make the statement that they're not going to have as much money, they're not going to be able to go out and spend the way they did last year and it's going to hurt ‘em."

It's not yet clear just how those budget cuts would impact Luke Air Force base, but a spokesman says one possibility is they might have to cut back on F-16 pilot training.

As for those who may be facing the furlough, a Luke spokesperson said in a statement to FOX 10: "This is approximately a 20% salary reduction over the next 6 months and equates to over $6.5 million in payroll. From a mission perspective, it has the potential to slow down the pace at which we train F-16 pilots… We're still exploring how sequestration will affect us, but we are looking for any and all areas to be more effective and efficient."

"It makes me angry that they would be cutting the military bases so much you know. I think that is something that we really need and we need to keep them strong," says Hiler.

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