New Cumberland Army Depot workers concerned about job cuts

Workers at the Defense Logistics Agency’s New Cumberland Army Depot say they’re concerned at least 400 jobs could be cut at the facility.

Members of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 2004 met in Camp Hill Friday to try to learn more about the proposal and what impact it could have. The union represents about 2,000 workers at the depot.

While union leaders say the agency has undertaken “an illegal business case analysis” to potentially pay private contractors to store inventory and fulfill customer orders.

“When we lose over 400 jobs, how bad is that? It’s going to be horrible,” said Tim Schaming, a general supply specialist and vice president of the union.

Last year, DLA’s director Adm. Mark Harnitchek said his agency is aiming to cut costs by $13 billion over five years, as the country draws down overseas.

Schaming says he understands some cuts will be necessary but feels DLA is going about them the wrong way. He says he doubts contracting out the work done at the New Cumberland facility would save money or be done as efficiently. He said it could take two to three times as long to send orders overseas.

“It’s rivets that hold the skin on an F-16, or it’s the nut that holds the rotor on a helicopter,” said Schaming in describing the work done at the depot.

Robert Stern, who was worked at the facility for 16 years said there has been “just a lot of confusion because we don’t really know which way the depot’s going to go.”

“The Defense Logistics Agency is currently studying various methods of providing hardware items to our military customers with the intent of being more cost effective and efficient,” said Tracy Umstead, a spokeswoman for DLA. “At this point, we are only exploring options and no decisions have been made, to include decisions that may affect staffing at DLA Distribution Susquehanna or other locations. We will continue to keep the workforce and union informed as we study this issue.”

Legal counsel for the union questioned whether the process is legal, saying the agency’s leaders appear to have already decided to move forward with contracting out the work.

Union leaders say they have a meeting scheduled July 10 with DLA. In the meantime, they’ve reached out the area’s congressional delegation to try to gain support.