Employees like Wyrick are among some 46,000 temporary or contract workers losing jobs nationwide, the Pentagon has said. And, like Wyrick, many of them work full-time with benefits, even though they're employed for a specific period of time and purpose. Since their jobs depend upon contracts being renewed, they're particularly vulnerable to budget cuts.
Pentagon spokeswoman Army Lt. Col. Elizabeth Robbins said agency officials regret the layoffs and are "deeply concerned about the effects of these actions on our military readiness, as well as the immediate effects on our civilian colleagues and their families."
The Red River Army Depot workers are puzzled over the cutbacks, because they say they save money for the Pentagon. By refurbishing older, war-torn vehicles they lead to fewer purchases of new cars and trucks for the Army.
"We overhaul various military vehicles, take them down to the smallest possible piece of material, refurbish them, and put them back together as good as a brand new vehicle," union president O'Bier said.
The depot is also a major economic force for the West Arkansas and East Texas area, where it is located. Employment gains at the depot helped the area rebound faster than other metropolitan areas in the region, said Kathy Deck, an economist and director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at University of Arkansas.