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How much do feds really work?

In commenting on a recent article on the newly launched deficit “super committee,” FCW readers got into a heated discussion when one suggested that the panel should propose pay freezes and benefits cuts for government employees.

“Let’s hope they freeze fed pay and reduce benefits,” reader Kyle wrote. “Fed jobs are supposed to make less because you can't be fired and for the most part don't have to do too much to be successful (not many feds working 60 [hours]/week on a 40-hour/week salary.) Especially when you consider that the fed [employees] make 2X their private counterparts, according to USA Today. Good job unions, break us all!”

Responding to Kyle’s post, a reader pointed out the already-existing federal pay freeze and said the idea that government employees can’t be fired is a myth “propagated by the ignorant.”

“Kyle, according to the U.S. federal labor laws, unless you are an exempt employee -- straight salary, NO employer can require you to work 60 hours and only pay you for 40,” that reader said. “If you are personally doing so and are not an exempt employee, I suggest you seek legal counsel. If you are exempt and are working such hours, then you should have taken this into consideration when you negotiated your current position. “

Also objecting to Kyle’s comments, a reader said federal employees, especially those in white-collar positions, commonly work 50-60 hour per week while receiving only a 40-hour-week salary.

“Many mid- to senior-level federal employees have been asked to do more with less so they stay connected via BlackBerry or remote access long after they leave the physical office for the day,” that reader wrote. “I used to be proud to be a civil servant -- now, I just feel like federal employees keep getting beat up in the media and by Congress. Congress should look to cut some of their benefits if federal salaries and benefits remain on the chopping block.”

Another reader agreed that members of Congress should get paid the same as federal employees.

“The committee and the rest of Congress should be on the same pay and benefits as the rest of government,” that reader said. “That alone would save some money and then make them look for real money-wasting programs.”

Other readers offered additional approaches to save money and solve the budget crisis.

“How about this idea? Everyone pay $5,000 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. That is what the deficit is now. Pay it at tax season. Then we'd be done,” Rick from Washington State suggested.

Reader Mike also had a proposal for reducing the budget deficit: share the burden among the people, especially the wealthier ones.

“If there's a national burden, the entire nation needs to contribute to taking care of it, not just feds,” he wrote. “I'd rather see multimillion-dollar employees contribute a little more (e.g. athletes getting paid $10 million per year; CEOs getting bonuses and huge retirement payouts; etc.). Many of these folks receive tax write-offs for donations or purchasing 'green' items, etc. This burden needs to be shared across the nation.”

Posted by Camille Tuutti on Sep 14, 2011 at 12:19 PM


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