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ATF workers in Berkeley County, W.Va. could regain jobs

April 27, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Budget changes approved last week will allow nearly 100 contract workers who recently lost their jobs at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives National Tracing Center in Berkeley County, W.Va., to be rehired, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s office announced Saturday.

“The terrible tragedy in Boston reinforces that those who protect our country and respond to emergencies should be able to get the resources they need to do their jobs to the fullest,” Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said in a news release.

The 98 workers who lost their jobs at the end of March due to across-the-board federal budget cuts can be rehired because the House and Senate appropriations committees approved a request to change how funding had been allocated to the Justice Department by Congress, according to Rockefeller’s office.

The “reprogramming” of budgeted funding, which helps the ATF, FBI, U.S. Marshals and other agencies under the Justice Department’s oversight, did not require House or Senate floor votes, according to Rockefeller’s office.

“Our FBI and ATF facilities in West Virginia play essential roles in reducing the risk of terrorism and identifying those who could be looking to do harm,” Rockefeller said. “While this fix only protects some employees and government operations from cuts, I’m absolutely still working to find a solution to all of the harmful, across-the-board spending cuts.”  

The workers in the ATF’s firearms program were laid off as part of an $82 million budget cut due to sequestration, a Department of Justice spokesperson had said earlier this month.

Those laid off were fairly low-wage workers, R. Cory Boxall, vice president for business development with Three Saints Bay LLC, had said. Rolling Bay LLC is the prime contractor at the facility, Boxall said.

The government told the company on March 26 that the workers would have to leave by March 31, Boxall had said.

If the sequestration cuts had been sustained, up to 160 contractors could have be affected at the facility, the Justice Department had said. 

Rockefeller’s office said Saturday that the funding reallocation also will help the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Systems division in Clarksburg, W.Va., avoid potential employee furloughs.

Rockefeller’s office said Attorney General Eric Holder has reinforced that the cuts would have forced layoffs and prevented employees from effectively responding to emergencies and safeguarding the American people.

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