Union aims to prove its members' worth

A federal employees union wants to prove that Americans see its members as vitally important to the nation and not a drain to be cut as the government grapples with diminishing funds.

The National Treasury Employees Union, along with the polling firm Ipsos Public Affairs, surveyed 1,000 adults in August and found the people believe the government needs to commit more resources and manpower to areas, such as food safety, veterans’ assistance, and nuclear safety, according to the survey results released Aug. 20. Specifically, Americans would like to spend more on:

  • Veterans assistance, 86 percent.
  • Border security, 72 percent.
  • Food safety, 69 percent.
  • Ensuring the safety of medical devices, 66 percent.
  • Nuclear safety, 58 percent.

However, NTEU President Colleen Kelley said the survey results might have been different if the union had not picked high-profile programs. “Maybe with a generic phrase it might have changed the results,” she acknowledged during a conference call Aug. 20. 

Forty percent of respondents were unaware that federal employees have gone through a two-year pay freeze and that there have been no recent increases in retirement contributions for new employees. Kelley said the federal employees are viewed too often as the “piggy bank” when the government needs to find money.

Kelley said NTEU’s efforts to raise awareness are not aimed less toward the November elections and more toward funding decisions the White House and Congress are making now.

The government faces sequestration, which will cause drastic cuts in funding. The Obama administration is pushing for more cuts to spending in the fiscal 2014 budget plans, including 10 percent in IT spending cuts. Leading into fiscal 2013, House and Senate leaders have agreed to a continuing resolution to fund the government for several months. Details will come in September when Congress returns from its August recess. And so far, no fiscal 2013 appropriations bills have passed the Senate.

With the debates happening now, “we wanted this information out there and these facts out there so the public can weigh in on their opinions with the people who are making those decisions,” Kelley said.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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