Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tinker to Lose 900+ Jobs in Wing Loss Base May Come out Ahead over Next Three Years

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tinker to Lose 900+ Jobs in Wing Loss Base May Come out Ahead over Next Three Years

Article excerpt

Nearly 1,000 jobs are being eliminated at Tinker Air Force Base in a move U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts called "political."

Immediately after it was announced Tuesay that the 38th Engineering Installation Wing at Tinker will be deactivated in a "reengineering and restructuring," the Oklahoma Republican called for a U.S. General Accounting Office investigation into the downsizing.

"It's strange that they have added engineers this year and now they are deactivating," Watts said during a press conference outside the Tinker fence. "We heard rumors of this for the past 10 days, which increases my skepticism. If there's nothing political, why are they playing hide and seek with us and not giving us the data and analysis they have to show the cost savings?" But despite losing these jobs, Tinker's employment is expected to increase over the next three years because of other alignments. Air Force officials also said Tuesday that more than 1,000 civilian and military jobs may being added to the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, Tinker's host tenant unit. The base now has a total population of about 22,000 military and civilian workers. When the wing is deactivated, between Oct. 1, 1999, and mid-2000, 478 civilian jobs and 466 military jobs will be lost at Tinker. It's not known if the people in those jobs will be terminated, retired or transferred into other jobs either at Tinker or another base. "It's going to be some time before we actually execute this plan, so we are bound to have some attrition during that time," said Col. Melvin D. Flack, the wing's commander. "It's going to be our number one priority to make this transition as easy on the personnel as possible." At least 50 jobs will be transferred to Scott Air Force Base, Ill. "Until we get into executing the plan, we don't know exactly what will occur," Flack said. Immediately after the announcement was made during a press conference on base, Watts called for an impromptu press conference. "I would like to see the data, the analysis that they used to determine that this would save the Air Force $18.5 million," he told the assembled reporters. "From the politics that has been played with Tinker during my tenure, I'm skeptical of the administration's plan. "I don't want to jump to conclusions, but this seems like politics is a factor in this decision. I don't think that I am being disrespectful or out of line when I ask the questions that should be asked concerning the district that I represent, namely, where is the data, the assessment, the analysis that was performed?" This harkens back to the 1995 recommendations of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, which called for the closing of air logistics centers at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, and McClellan Air Force, Calif., and some of the jobs be transferred to Tinker's host tenant unit. …

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