Temporary layoffs expected to cascade out of United Technologies Corp. were canceled after U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Saturday recalled most of the Pentagon's furloughed civilian employees.
With the first round of private-sector furloughs scheduled to begin Monday at Sikorsky Aircraft and Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp., attorneys at the Pentagon concluded that the law doesn't permit the type of blanket furlough of all civilian employees, including the on-site defense inspectors.
Pentagon employees make up the majority of the 800,000 federal workers furloughed during the shutdown that began last Tuesday after Congress failed to pass a measure to fund the federal government. The defense secretary said its recall of employees would affect most of the department's workers.
"I expect us to be able to significantly reduce -- but not eliminate -- civilian furloughs under this process," Hagel said in a statement.
The U.S. Department of
Defense, with the U.S. Justice Department, "concluded that the law does allow the Department of Defense to eliminate furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members," Hagel said.
On Sunday, United Technologies canceled its furlough plans, the first stage of which would have sent home more than 2,000 workers at Sikorsky on Monday. The company had planned to furlough another 2,000 employees next week and an additional 1,000 by next month.
"United Technologies greatly appreciates the efforts of those in the administration and Congress who facilitated the recall of the furloughed civilian employees in the U.S. Department of Defense," the company said in a written statement.
The furloughed inspectors, from the Pentagon's Defense Contract Management Agency, were deemed nonessential government employees. It's their responsibility to examine defense contractors' work, such as helicopters or jet engines. Their sign-off moves work along to the next step in assembly and sends a completed order out the door for delivery.