BANGOR — Most of the 406 Maine Army and Air National Guard employees and 1,500 workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery furloughed last Tuesday when the federal government shut down have returned to work, officials said Monday.

Maj. Michael Steinbuchel, public affairs officer for both branches of the Maine National Guard, said employees learned they would return to work over the weekend.

“A majority were contacted by their superiors [Sunday] and reported to work on Monday,” Steinbuchel said of the furloughed federal civilian technicians.

Only 16 have not been recalled, Steinbuchel said. They work in auditing and publication categories, he said.

“While this is good news, it still does not fix the whole problem,” Steinbuchel said referring to the shutdown.

The partial recall was announced Saturday by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel who said the Pentagon would be recalling many of its roughly 400,000 civilian employees sent home last week when Congress failed to pass a budget.


Hagel said a legal review of the “Pay Our Military Act,” signed by President Barack Obama on the eve of the shutdown, would allow him to bring a still-unspecified number of civilians back to work.

“I expect us to be able to significantly reduce — but not eliminate — civilian furloughs under this process,” Hagel said.

Hagel’s order also means that “all the furloughed workers from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are back on the job as of today,” U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree said in an email statement.

“Approximately 1,500 people came back to work today,” Danna Eddy, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard spokeswoman, said Monday.

Dedham resident Christien Dearborn, a full-time aircraft mechanic with the 101st Air Refueling Wing based in Bangor, is one National Guard employee who returned to work on Monday. He said last week that he and his co-workers were frustrated with Congress.

The shutdown also forced the cancellation of the scheduled Oct. 5-6 weekend drills for both the Maine Army and Air National Guard, and Steinbuchel said Monday there currently is no money for training.


“The traditional guardsmen are still not able to train,” Steinbuchel said. “In addition to that, there is no operations and maintenance funds.”

There is funding for fuel and other essential items, but no funds are available for supplies and nonessential items, he said.

“What we have on the shelves — when it’s gone, it’s gone,” Steinbuchel said.

The employees who returned to work Monday will be issued mid-month paychecks for any time worked, but still at issue is whether they will be paid for their lost time.

“We will be paid,” Steinbuchel said. “We don’t anticipate any interruption [in the bi-monthly pay schedule].”

That said, he added, “guidance is literally changing hourly.”


The Republican-led House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill Saturday that would retroactively pay 800,000 furloughed workers once the government shutdown ends. The bill has yet to go before the Democrat-led Senate for concurrence.

The White House has said that President Barack Obama will sign the bill into law. There is no end in sight to the shutdown, and there are still no bipartisan negotiations.

Steinbuchel said last week that the last time the Maine Guard was furloughed, they were issued retroactive pay.

“For this round, we’re still working through some of that guidance,” he said Monday.

It was announced Saturday that another 44 state employees paid by the federal government would be sent home.

“The 44 state employees are still furloughed,” Steinbuchel said.

Comments are no longer available on this story