Union to supercommittee: Don't take it out on us

A coalition representing 4.6 million federal and postal workers and annuitants has sent a letter to the deficit reduction supercommittee urging the panel to reject proposals that would put further strains on the federal workforce.

The Federal-Postal Coalition—made up of 20 federal unions and professional organizations—wrote in response to two proposals from members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and two proposals from members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“Despite popular opinion, federal employees are not immune to the economic woes of this country,” said the letter. “Similar to their private-sector counterparts, federal workers are confronting financial hardships due to unemployed spouses, rising health care costs and general living expenses.”

The coalition asked the supercommittee to take into account the $60 billion federal workers already have contributed to the deficit reduction effort. “The fact that the pay freeze originated before the passage of the Budget Control Act of 2011 should not prevent its recognition as a price already paid by federal workers toward deficit reduction,” the letter said.

The group maintained that the list of recommendations forwarded last week by Senate Oversight Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-Maine) “includes many damaging proposals to the compensation of the federal workforce.”

Among those Senate proposals, the coalition objected to measures that would extend the two-year pay freeze for another year, require higher employee contributions toward retirement, change the high-3 annuity calculation to a high-5, forbid employees from counting unused sick leave toward retirement and reduce workers’ compensation benefits.

The letter had kinder words for the chairman of the Senate workforce subcommittee, Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and the minority members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Those lawmakers have asked the supercommittee to turn back proposals that would further cut federal workers’ pay and benefits. The coalition also commended Akaka and the House Democrats for endorsing President Obama’s proposal to cap contractor compensation—an issue which it said Lieberman and Collins had failed to address sufficiently.

The coalition also asked the supercommittee to reject any budget proposals that call for “arbitrary downsizing of the federal civil service by proposing across-the-board workforce cuts without regard to agency mission.”

“Neither the president’s proposal nor the letter by Sens. Lieberman and Collins included such a damaging recommendation, and Sen. Akaka specifically proposed, instead, a 15 percent reduction overall in civilian and defense service contracts,” the letter said. “Downsizing of the federal workforce has historically led to wasteful privatization and the use of contractors to perform functions that are too important or sensitive to be outsourced at a much higher price.”

The coalition’s member organizations include the American Federation of Government Employees, Federally Employed Women, Federal Managers Association, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, Association of Postal Supervisors, National Federation of Federal Employees, National Treasury Employees Union, Professional Managers Association, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, and 10 other unions and professional groups.

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Reader comments

Mon, Oct 31, 2011 Clem Munno

Why is it that when sacrifice is needed our friends in the Government Unions say"not us, go somewhere else." A time long ago Unions served a purpose. They helped defeat child labor abuses and unfair compensation/ benefits issues. However, those have been under control for many years. Now the abuses are within the Unions. How much sacrificing has Union leadership made? How many Union leaders get higher pay and benefits than the average of their members salaries and benefits? How much membership money is spent on travel and entertainment? How much member money is spent on funding political and other activities without specific authorization by each member? Does anybody wonder why prices are rising when the Unions use strikes and other tactics to force companies into paying greater employee costs than the economy calls for? Are we ready to wake up to the fact that all our jobs are going overseas because the unions have made the cost of US labor uncompetitive in the world market? Why doe we need three federal workers to do the job that one contractor can perform? Because the Federal Government insists that vendors be trained and qualified for positions they are contracted for before they get the job. Hoewver for Government employees they hire them without qualifications to perform, train them from three to five years, send them to seminars and "training" conferences (party time), and has a leave benefit and telework programs that create great inefficiency and little actual work time. Taxpayers, we could reduce the Federal workforce by 30% and not miss a beat in services that would probably get better and more efficient. Then there are a few Agencies that could be reduced because of duplication of services. Remember that the hardship is on the taxpayers because they have to send their dollars to pay for these inefficiencies.

Wed, Oct 26, 2011

Federal workers and retirees endure pay freezes. Health insurance companies do not. Please have OPM require that health insurance companies in the FEHBP not increase premiums for a period of at least 5 years. Following that period, any increase requested must be clearly and unequivocally demonstrated to be attributable to increases in the costs of services provided to those insured, not to administrative costs, staff salaries, benefits, etc. OPM is the largest purchaser of health insurance in this country. No insurance company doing business with OPM can afford to walk away from OPM. OPM must use its purchasing power for the benefit of the people for whom it is making the purchase, not for the benefit of the insurance companies.

Tue, Oct 25, 2011

Not all federal employees fall under a union, just to get your facts straight.

Tue, Oct 25, 2011

I am a federal employee with 26 years of service. During my career, I have worked as many as 2 additional jobs at one time to supplement my income. I've probably had 8 part-time jobs during my federal career. Just because we work for the government, does not mean that we make the "big bucks". However, it does mean that we had the foresight to get a job that offered benefits and a retirement program. I do pay into a retirement program, and I expect to have a retirement when I'm done. I do pay into a health plan - $746 a month for a family plan. Oh, and my spouse works in the private sector, so we are struggling, too. Don't believe all the hype that government workers are overpaid and lazy; quite the contrary, we've been doing more with less for years before all this started.

Tue, Oct 25, 2011

Stop whining. None of you workers are really worth anything. Only Management is properly endowed to know what is right. Go back to work and Management will take care of everything. They know what is best.

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