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Layoffs, changes continue as island USOs consolidate

Date Posted: 1998-03-27

Personnel layoffs, uncertainty of the future and consolidation of functions is the order of the day at the island USOs as they struggle to reconfigure their functions after the recent decision to shut four of the seven USOs on Okinawa.

The re-organized USO will be operating under Frank Herrmann, Director, USO Okinawa, and Director of Programs, Maria Stephens.

Current personnel consolidations entail letting go all but two American employees at the Kadena USO and the entire staff of the Futenma, Foster, and Kinser USO's, also let go was the Regional Director Okinawa Jack Darnell and the Kadena USO Director George Kelly.

Hermann told Japan Update that Kinser was scheduled to close on March 28 and Foster would close on April 30 but the Futenma date was uncertain. The uncertain status of current employees have left a sour taste with disenchanted employees and USO patrons alike. "Almost the entire staff is being let go", said one of the employees, who did not dare reveal her name for fear of not being paid a severance pay. "It is extremely difficult to go to work every day when you are unsure weather you will have a job the next day," stated another anonymous employee.

Hermann stated that he was unsure of the number of personnel being let go. However, all employees were notified of the termination. He also mentioned that some new positions may be formed by the consolidation and that USO employees would have first chance to gain employment.

The main goal with the consolidation is to build a cohesive program out of Kadena and make the USO one entity. "We plan to keep the cafeteria, gift shops and Kadena tours program operational," Hermann said.

Hermann, who previously served as the Southern Director of the now closing Foster, Futenma, and Kinser USO's, stated that Kadena was chosen as the main base because of its central location.

Stephens, also a previous director of the Northern USO's plans on talking with camp commanders and working alongside of MWR to provide services to camps without facilities.

With the elimination of jobs and consolidation of others some employees wonder how long they can operate. All eyes will be focused on the future of island wide USO's.

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