Furlough Chatter Heats Up At Local Businesses

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MADISON, Ala.(WHNT)-Strict policies which include the threat of termination are keeping thousands of defense workers from publicly speaking out about the impact of planned furloughs. But several local businesses who serve those workers are hearing all about them.

The owners of Premiere Barber Shop in Madison told WHNT News 19 that roughly four out of every ten of their customers have ties to Redstone Arsenal and the defense industry. The shop sits just a few miles from the Arsenal, creating easy access for dozens of loyal regulars.

Co-owner Anthony High said furlough talk picked up dramatically after thousands of Department of Defense notices were received earlier in the week, with some customers already giving notice that their trips to the barber's chair will be less frequent.

"People knew it was coming, so they're starting to prepare ahead of time for it," said High. "They don't come in and get their haircut as often. They go from maybe every week to maybe bi-weekly, so it effects us...It's not good on my end. You know, I got a family to feed too."

High said some of his defense-based clients are also downsizing their summer vacation plans, while others ponder if they'll even take one at all. He also told us the barber shop should be able to weather the furloughs as long as they're short-term, but remains weary of anything longer than a few months.

"I'm hoping it doesn't take long to get back on track cuz I like my customers, and I need them to keep everything going around here."

The Department of Defense said roughly 15,000 workers would be impacted in north Alabama. Those workers will be furloughed for a total of eleven days between early July and late September. Many agencies are planning to use those unpaid furloughs on Mondays or Fridays, but each decision will be made on a department-by-department basis.

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