Federal furloughs: Arsenal worker contends with crisis


Jay Winter remembers the sick feeling on Monday morning.

“I woke up angry,” he recalled. “And I stayed angry all day.”

Federal furloughs idled sites like the Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center. It stalled projects at the Rock Island Arsenal that serve soldiers in the field.

“I don’t get paid for today,” he continued.

It’s where the 24-year Arsenal vet works in the warehouse.

“This is my living,” he said. “It’s a single-income household, so this is all I’ve got.”

Within the tradition and ceremony of a command change, there’s also heartache. And Winter isn’t alone. Some 6,000 Arsenal employees face furloughs. Winter stands to lose about $2,000 in pay.

“The 20% for the next three months may turn into more,” he said.

Jay Winter grew up in a military family, served in the Air Force and now works at the Arsenal. He worries that the furlough will become even worse.

“This ripple effect is definitely going to hit the entire Quad City area,” he said.

Small businesses aren’t feeling the pinch yet, but Winter warns that it’s coming. Furloughs include the lowest grade to the highest supervisor.

“This isn’t just going to affect us, federal employees, the people at Rock Island Arsenal,” he said.

The Arsenal factory shuts down again on July 19th. As one of 6,000 local employees, furloughs raise a red flag about the future.

“Me, as a worker, I’m worried about keeping my job,” Winter said.

For the Davenport man, 55, a sick feeling is returning.

“It’s Friday, and I’m pretty angry,” he concluded. “In a week from today, I’ve got to do that all over again.”