Rock Island Arsenal workers were hopeful, but wary, of reports Tuesday that their furlough days might be reduced.
Union officials on the island said they had seen reports that suggested the unpaid days off could be cut from 11 to eight, possibly even to five.
The Associated Press quoted an unidentified Defense Department official saying the reduction to eight was possible if $500 million in savings are found. It could go down to five if $900 million is found, the AP said.
About 6,000 Arsenal workers began taking furloughs three weeks ago.
The Pentagon, responding to the report, said no decision has been made yet.
An official with the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 15, which represents some Arsenal workers, said there was no word yet from their union headquarters about a reduction in furlough days. But the union official saw the news report as a positive sign.
"At least it's being talked about, but we're not holding our breath," said Mary DeSmet, vice president of the local.
Meanwhile, furloughed workers are getting some measure of help from the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce.
A chamber official said Tuesday it has asked staffing agencies and its member businesses to examine its hiring needs and consider furloughed workers for temporary openings.
A form will be put up on the chamber's website Thursday for employers to list openings.
Already, some companies are responding, said Jillian McCleary, director of communications for the chamber.
"It serves two needs and supports our military community," she said.
Tom Honsa, the president of Honsa Ergonomics, Milan, said he is interested in the program for help with engineering and human resource work.
"To go out and hire an engineer to do that work is pretty costly, but to have a resource that would allow us to hire an individual for a period of time for a specific task would be great," he said.
DeSmet said she knows of workers who have gone out to get other part-time work while on furlough, mostly in retail, to make up for the lost pay.
However, with most furloughed workers taking a day off each week through the end of September, it might have limited success, a union official said.
"I appreciate the fact they're trying to do that," said Steve Beck, president of Local 15. "I would think most people, given the situation, unless they're in a difficult financial situation, they'll ride out the furlough."
The furloughs resulted from automatic budget cuts that were put into place earlier this year, after Congress and the White House failed to meet debt reduction targets.
There also will be cuts put in place for fiscal year 2014, unless Congress acts to stop them.
Union officials on the Arsenal have said they are working to try to head off next year's cuts, and the U.S. House of Representatives last week included language in a defense spending bill that forbids the Pentagon from furloughing workers in fiscal 2014, which begins in October.
The Senate hasn't acted yet on its defense spending bill.
The 11 furlough days through the end of September for Defense Department workers amount to a 20 percent cut in pay from the beginning of July to Sept. 30.
Federal workers have objected to the unpaid days off, and Arsenal unions have held seminars to help employees understand the procedures for appealing the furloughs. DeSmet said workers have 30 days after their first furlough day to file an appeal with the Merit System Protection Board.
DeSmet said she expected "hundreds" of workers to file appeals.