Workers Back on the Job at Camp Robinson

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR — For the first time in more than two weeks it’s back to work for Brandon Mercer,  a plumber at the Camp Robinson National Guard base.
He’s technically a state employee, but his salary is partially funded by the federal government.
He was sent home during the shutdown — creating worry for him and his wife.

“You’ve only got one income now to work with and it’s scary,” Mercer said.

Mercer is one of more than 1,100 National Guard workers furloughed during the shutdown.

Pamela Huff — an Army National Guard auditor — is another.

Huff has worked at Camp Robinson for 30 years, being furloughed forced her to file for unemployment for the first time in her life.

Her reaction to coming back to work Thursday:

“I was truly, truly excited,” she said.

At the Camp Robinson airfield things are also returning to normal.  During the shutdown, pilots of the Blackhawk helicopters were not able to fly.  Now that it’s over, there’s a backlog of pilots needing to get current on their certifications and training.

It will be a busy next couple of weeks as workers all across the base play catch up.

But busy is better than bored, and workers here are happy to be back on the job.

Across Arkansas, most National Guard workers furloughed during the shutdown were federal workers who will receive back pay for the time they were forced to miss.

But about 35 percent were technically state workers and, right now, there’s no mechanism to reimburse their pay.

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