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Tinker Air Force Base targets 750 for buyouts in Oklahoma

Sprawling aircraft maintenance depot near Midwest City offers incentives to blue-collar workers in fourth buyout effort since 2011.
by Chris Casteel Modified: July 14, 2013 at 3:00 pm •  Published: July 14, 2013
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/articleid/3862036/1/pictures/2151197">Photo - Maintenance workers re-skin an aircraft inside a Tinker Air Force Base maintenance building. About 26,000 civilian workers at Tinker are facing furloughs. Photo by Jim Beckel,  The Oklahoman Archive
Maintenance workers re-skin an aircraft inside a Tinker Air Force Base maintenance building. About 26,000 civilian workers at Tinker are facing furloughs. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman Archive

The regular retirement, early retirement and voluntary separation programs carry financial incentives; some workers can get up to $25,000 in cash to leave early.

A U.S. Air Force spokeswoman at the Pentagon said last week that there were no service-wide buyout offers being made to civilians, though plans for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 still are being finalized.

Other Air Force maintenance centers have offered the programs this year as they also try to reshape the workforce.

Even before the automatic budget cuts — known as sequestration — went into effect in March, the Defense Department was required to cut nearly $500 billion over a 10-year period. The services have planned major cuts in active duty forces in the next few years.

Tinker officials said last week that the buyouts being offered now were not related to sequestration or the earlier budget cuts.

About 9,000 civilians work at the aircraft maintenance center, the largest of the three Air Force depots. In targeting the buyout offers, base officials looked at specific functions and years of service.

Schmidt said he had concerns that the workload could at times strain the mechanics that remain.

But he said that workload has decreased and the maintenance systems have been updated.

“There have been a lot of process improvements, so we're doing more with less,” he said.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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