HUD drops last 2 furlough days

Friday - 8/9/2013, 6:04pm EDT

Employees at the Department of Housing and Urban Development will not have to take furlough days on Aug. 16 and 30.

In March, HUD announced it would furlough all 9,000 of its employees for seven days between May and August to offset automatic budget cuts due to sequestration. Furlough dates were scheduled for May 10 and 24; June 14; July 5 and 22; and Aug. 16 and 30.

"When HUD announced intent to impose up to seven furlough days to help close the budget gap caused by government-wide automatic spending cuts that took effect on March 1, 2013, senior leadership pledged to do everything possible to minimize the personal impact on HUD's employees," HUD Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones said in a statement. "Today, I am pleased to announce that HUD is reducing the number of furlough days from seven to five, providing some relief to the approximately 9,000 employees who have endured five days of unpaid leave since May 24."

He added that HUD managers were making progress toward achieving $69.6 million in sequestration cuts without the need for further furlough days.

The cancellation of the furloughs comes after a memorandum of understanding was reached between the agency and the American Federation of Government Employees.

In April, HUD rolled out a major restructuring plan to close and consolidate dozens of its field offices — an action that would affect 10 percent of its workforce nationwide.

But Eddie Eitches, president of AFGE Council 222, told Federal News Radio in May the restructuring plan violated the original furlough Memorandum of Understanding his union had with HUD.

"The agreement itself [said] HUD must agree to reduce costs through all possible means and to implement cost savings to reduce the seven planned furlough days, hopefully to zero," Eitches said.

Eitches contended the agency couldn't take on the expenditures of a reorganization until it reduced the remaining furlough days to zero. This led AFGE to file a grievance, alleging that HUD had violated the terms of its original agreement concerning the implementation of furlough days. That grievance was set to go before an arbitrator on Aug. 13 and 14.

But on Friday, AFGE and HUD released a new MOU, in which HUD agreed to cancel the final two furlough days. In exchange, AFGE agreed to withdraw its grievance.

"Today's announcement that HUD employees will be spared two more days of furloughs is welcome news," AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement. "There is no doubt that like so many other agencies, HUD could have absorbed sequestration's cuts without any furloughs at all. Still, the reduction from seven to the five days already taken is a victory for AFGE's Council of HUD Locals, who never gave up the fight against the agency's decision."

RELATED STORIES:

HUD reorg plan violates furlough agreement, union says

HUD reorganization will close dozens of field offices, affect 900 workers

Sequestration to force HUD to shut down for 7 days