More than 17,000 Environmental Protection Agency employees will be spared a final furlough day that had been scheduled for Aug. 30, Administrator Gina McCarthy announced today. In a message to EPA staff, McCarthy attributed the decision to savings found elsewhere in the agency’s budget.
“The choices we made are difficult, but we continue to be flexible—applying good management decisions to ensure we continue to carry out our mission and reduce the impact of sequestration on each employee,” McCarthy said, according to a transcript provided by the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents many EPA staff.
In recent weeks, the Defense Department, IRS and Housing and Urban Development Department have also trimmed previously scheduled furlough days. The cancellation of the Aug. 30 day means that EPA employees will have taken about six days of unpaid time off, said John O’Grady, president of the AFGE’s Chicago local for the agency. While the cancellation is “wonderful” news, O’Grady said, he questioned whether furloughs had been needed in the first place.
“We’ve been trying to tell them that all along,” O’Grady said. “Finally it seems that we had somebody who listened.”