• July 30, 2014

Furloughed Fort Hood workers seek unemployment benefits

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Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 3:15 pm, Fri Oct 4, 2013.

More than 110 government employees visited Central Texas Workforce Centers since receiving furlough notices Tuesday.

Most people whose jobs are impacted by the partial government shutdown are interested in what the centers have to offer them, said Jerry Haisler, director of the centers in Killeen and Temple.

“They are coming in and typically they have their letter notifying them of the furlough. We let them know about our services and how to apply for unemployment,” he said.

Furloughed employees are eligible for unemployment if they meet the proper past wages and job separation qualifications, according to information from the Texas Workforce Commission’s website. If they were part of the six-day furlough conducted earlier this year, they are more likely to be eligible, Haisler said.

Eligibility isn’t determined locally, and Haisler said he encourages people to go ahead and apply. Center staff also are available to educate people on the other services offered, such as resume help and job matching.

Financial concerns are the No. 1 reason people are calling the office of the local chapter 1920 of the American Federation of Government Employees, said Samuel Boles, executive vice president.

“I’ve been directing employees to these different offices to get them assistance,” he said.

Resources he suggested include Army Emergency Relief, for which retirees are eligible, Army Community Service, a loan program run through the union, and borrowing from their Thrift Savings Plan.

“The second main question is, ‘Right now are we working for free?’ The answer is yes. Right now employees on the excepted list, you are working for free with intention to get paid later,” Boles said.

There are about 6,000 federal employees at Fort Hood, and 19 percent are furloughed, post officials said. If the government shutdown continues, Haisler said he expects those affected to continue to visit the centers.

“They’re doing the right thing. They should come in,” he said. “The rest is just a waiting game to see how long this is going to be or when it is going to end.”

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