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New civilian gate guard contract in works for Vandenberg

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- On Dec.1, Vandenberg personnel will no longer see the blue uniform of the U.S. Protect guards protecting Vandenberg gates.

They will be replaced by Chenega Integrated Systems' choice uniforms, bearing the Chenega logo.

"The guards will have new uniforms but, other than that, there will be no change to the quality of security on Vandenberg," said Sheila Mercier, a quality assurance evaluator here. "Every year the contract is open to be bid on by other contractors and quite frequently, the previous contractor is out-bidded."

Vandenberg isn't the only base that's contract was awarded to Chenega.

Chenega will also be protecting the gates at Andersen AFB, Guam
Beale AFB, Calif., Buckley AFB, Colo., Cheyenne Mt AFS, Colo., Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., Edwards AFB, Calif., Eielson AFB, Alaska., Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, Hickam AFB, Hawaii., Hill AFB, Utah., McChord AFB, Wash., Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, Nellis AFB, Nav., Peterson AFB, Co, Schriever AFB, Colo., and the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo.

Though the uniforms may change, the guards themselves might not.

"The current guards will have the opportunity to apply with the new company for their current job," said Ms. Mercier. "Most of the time the new company opts to keep the current, already trained, employees."

In fact, this change-over process is nothing new to some employees.

"This is nothing new to me," said Wayde Baldwin, U.S. Protect armed guard. "This will be the second time a company has been out-bidded while I've worked at Vandenberg."

Other than a uniform change, the biggest concern for some U.S. Protect employees is what will come of a certain cash or benefits offer that hasn't yet been addressed by Chenega, Mr. Baldwin said.

"What's up in the air is an option that U.S. Protect gave us allowing employees to either take a $3.16 hourly pay increase or put that money into benefits or 401K plan," Mr. Baldwin said. "If that option is taken away with this new company it will mean a significant pay decrease for some guards."

More information about the Chenega contract will be available in a few weeks when a Chenega representative visit Vandenberg, Mr. Baldwin said.