Furloughs were called off for some United Technologies Corp. employees after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered most of the Defense Department’s 350,000 civilian employees back to work.
The company had planned to furlough 2,000 workers starting on Monday. UTC is responsible for making Black Hawk helicopters and relies on furloughed government inspectors to complete its work.
On Saturday, Hagel ordered the Defense Department’s civilian employees back to work, saying they are exempt from the shutdown because they are contributing to the nation’s readiness, and thus are deemed essential employees.
The U.S. Department of Defense and 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.
The company said it was grateful for the clarification, which allowed its employees to continue working.
“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 company noted that employees “unable to work because the civil government facility where they perform their work is closed, or we’ve received a stop-work order on their DOD or civil government program. Of the 2,400 employees, approximately 2,100 work on civilian agency programs and 300 work on DOD programs. The affected employees are located in 27 states, with the majority based in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.”
While the furloughs were called off for UTC, other private companies have seen work interrupted.
Lockheed Martin Corp. reduced its furloughs by 20 percent after Hagel’s announcement, but still sent home 2,400 of its employees working on nondefense programs.
Employees from the Pentagon make up the bulk of the 800,000 federal workers furlouged during the government shutdown that began October 1. Congress has failed to pass a measure that would fund the federal government, with some Republicans refusing to bring forward a bill unless it contains a measure to delay or defund Obamacare.
If the furloughs had not been called off, UTC would have sent another 2,000 employees home next week and an additional 1,000 by November.