Sequestration to Shutter Commissaries Wednesdays

Commissaries will close on Wednesdays if the spending cuts known as sequestration go into effect March 1, according to a Feb. 21 memo to all commissary officials obtained by

The Wednesday closures would begin the week of March 31 and last through September. The closings would impact all stateside commissaries and most commissaries overseas, according to the memo.

"While we still hope sequestration will be avoided, we must, nevertheless, be prepared and plan accordingly," DeCA Director, Joseph Jeu wrote. "Consequently, after much deliberation, analysis and consideration, we developed several actions that will reduce spending to the level mandated by Congress, should sequestration happen."

The closures come on the heels of other cost-cutting measures, Jeu wrote, including canceling all May case-lot sales and an agency-wide hiring freeze.  

Closing the commissary on Wednesdays will furlough every commissary employee once a week for up to 22 days, the memo says. The move is the result of the Defense Department's decision to furlough all DoD civilian federal employees -- including those who work at the commissaries.

Poll: How would commissary closings impact you?

Some overseas commissaries may be exempt from the closure if they employee enough local national employees to stay in operation. Local nationals employed at overseas bases are exempt from furloughs.

Officials with American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), a union which represents civilian federal workers, many of whom are military spouses and family members, said the furloughs could cause major financial problems for their members.

"These are tremendous economic hits for all of our members. An employee in the middle of the pay scale, earning about $50,000 a year, takes home between $500 and $600 a week after subtracting health insurance, retirement and taxes. Taking away one day's pay every week could mean the difference between covering the mortgage and putting food on the table," said David Cox, AFGE's president.

The furlough plans are made with the knowledge that the closures may be avoided entirely, Jeu wrote.

"Because of the uncertainties of the current budget environment, we have planned these actions with the understanding that they are subject to change," he wrote. "With that said, I will make certain you receive ample notice before these actions take effect."  

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