MAY 2014, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News
Tobyhanna Army Depot Task Force formed and meeting
BY PAUL TUCKER
REGION, April 19th- Recently the campaign to keep the Tobyhanna Army Depot operating by the federal government in Northeastern Pennsylvania was kicked-off with the formation of a Blue Ribbon Task Force.
Approximately 65 people attended the first meeting of the task force that was held recently at the Tobyhanna Army Depot.
It is expected the federal government will review their facilities nationally in 2017, and like several decades ago, Tobyhanna could be placed in harms way by facing possible closure. The review, Base Retention and Closure (BRAC), could result in thousands of joblosses for a region that already has the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania.
The Tobyhanna Army Depot workforce has gotten a lot smaller because of the United States Department of Defense cutbacks in spending, changing plans on upgrading facilities and equipment, and the cutback on purchasing, with the withdraw of military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, the depot is still the largest employer in Northeastern Pennsylvania with workers from Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties making-up the majority of the workforce.
The task force made plans to meet regularly to discuss how they can gain support from local residents, elected officials and businesses, that does business with Tobyhanna Army Depot workers, to hopefully influence the U.S. Department of Defense to keep the facility operating. Many businesses in the region would be hurt if the facility is closed because workers spend money to purchase their goods and services.
The Tobyhanna Army Depot has cut approximately one-third of its workforce during the past several years which resulted in the two labor organizations that represents many of the workers having a decline in membership at the military facility.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Union Local 1647 represents around 2,000 employees at the depot and has lost many members because of the downsizing.
In late 2012 the depot employed around 5,100 workers counting the employees of subcontractors including those of URS Federal Support Services Inc., a contractor that provides industrial trade and electronics workers.
Currently, there are approximately 3,570 employed at the depot.