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Will feds accept yet another pay freeze?

Republicans are considering extending the pay freeze for government employees by an additional three years, but federal employee advocates are sounding like they've had just about enough. 

It certainly hasn’t been the greatest year for federal employees, but despite layoffs, pay freezes and the threat of sequestration, only a small percentage of government workers are reporting low employee satisfaction

That was before Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) introduced a bill that would add three more years to the two-year pay freeze already in place. The proposal would also reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent by 2015.

The Temporary Tax Holiday and Government Reduction Act would also eliminate millionaires’ and billionaires’ eligibility for unemployment compensation and food stamps and require them to pay higher Medicare premiums. The legislation also includes the Buffett Rule Act, which allows individuals who feel they are undertaxed to donate to the U.S. Treasury in an effort to pay down the national debt.

Heller, himself, called his bill “a practical solution” that would, he insists, preserve job growth and treat taxpayers’ dollars "responsibly." But Democratic leaders balked at the notion, arguing that the proposal would unfairly place more burden on an already strained workforce.

"The Republican payroll tax proposal represents another cynical ploy to single out federal employees for unfair treatment," Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said in a statement. "The financial collapse and weak economy were not caused by the men and women who serve the federal government, and they should not be forced to shoulder the entire burden of the cost of recovery."

Union leaders did not mince words, either. The National Federation of Federal Employees President William R. Dougan said the legislation was “absolutely unacceptable,” The Washington Post reported.  

“It is despicable that our elected representatives in Washington would propose taking thousands from the pockets of VA nurses, border patrol agents and food safety inspectors simply to protect a small group of millionaires and billionaires,” Dougan said.
Are feds willing to endure an extended pay freeze? How would an extra three years tacked onto the current pay freeze affect you? Are you considering a move to the private sector? Or are you sticking it through and staying, despite the threat of further layoffs and pay freezes?

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Reader comments

Wed, Dec 28, 2011 Agnes DC

Benefits with the Goverment? I worked for private corporations such as SAIC, as a Contractor for more than 15 years and had stocks, 18 days vacation, matching 401k to be vested in 3 years with a hefty salary. My co-pay to doctors was $10 for Primiary Care and $20 for a Specialist. When I joined the Government, I took a huge salary cut,pay so much out of pocket for insurance bi-weekly, then my co-pay for the Primary Care and Specialists went up, Medication-pharmacy cost went up, and I have a deductible of $5,000. I had no choice but to save less on retirement funds, and has to wait for 3 payroll checks to pay my mortgage because mortgage was not reduced just because payroll was cut. It is hard for me to meet up with my bills. Pulled my son off private school. So, another freeze will not be beneficial to the Federal Employees. As stated earlier, it takes forever to be considered for Federal positions. Federal is service to the people and if anyone thinks there are lazy Fed, then write to the Executives to do something about it. But no Federal employee comes to work and go to sleep without working. No pay Freeze. Standard of living is skyrocketing and tuition and fees the same. I can't even save for my son's college tuition anymore. Everything is cut. My boss asked me but why did you join the Government and took such a cut. Please senators, don't make things worst. Federal Employees are not responsible for what is happening in the country or economy today. Wall street, banks, morgage industries and wars should be held responsible for this mess. We should do lessons learned and for the next election be wise to vote those who care and want to provide public service to the country. The senators and Congress men maybe need to cut pay cuts also like others.

Wed, Dec 7, 2011 Paul

What gets misunterstood by some in all these discussions is simply how hard it is even to get a civilian position. I had to spend a lot of time and money going to the best schools and working as a contractor before I could even be considered for a position. My student loans are through the roof. I'm definitely not alone on this, and I know I have it a lot better than most others, but the ones that complain about feds are the ones that haven't put in the work but expect the rewards. I've done corporate and did well because I worked at it and made myself indispensable. I survived hard times but never saw anything less than a 3% increase and at least a few hundred stock options. There are definitely lazy feds out there, and many others that need to be trimmed, but the majority of us are out there every day keeping you alive so unless you've been in our shoes, quit complaining.

Tue, Dec 6, 2011 How's it Worth It?

We federal employees have it better than some private sector employees and we also have it worse than some. It's not always easy to compare apples to oranges. However, if the pay freeze is extended it will definately hurt. I reduced my monthly retirement contribution $50 per month this year just to keep pace with my increased property tax, grocery bill, gasoline prices, utility costs, medical insurance rates, etc, etc. If extended for 3 additional years I may not be able to contribute at all to my own retirement which also means no matching funds; which means yet another elderly person living at poverty level in 10-20 years relying on the Government to pay the cost of my elderly care. Now answer me this, how is another 3 year pay freeze going to save money in 10-20 years?

Tue, Dec 6, 2011 Response to Montana

Montana said "People talk of benefits. What do they mean by that?" Vacation (13, 19.5 or 26 days/year) and sick leave (13 days/year). As a contractor, I've had 18 days combined sick leave for the last 15 years. If I were a Fed, I'd have 39 per year now. 11 Federal holidays. Private industry typical gives no more than 8 holidays. Assuming one used all of their vacation and sick leave every, a long tenured federal employee could choose to take one day off almost every week (39 + 11 = 50 days), while I'm getting 1.5 days per month (18 days). Medical and dental benefits. In private industry, our medical and dental benefits get more expensive and cover less every year. From what I understand, Feds are paying more of their cost of benefits now. The government's contribution to your retirement plan (don't forget that matching funds from your agency are a benefit). Many companies do not match contributions and all require multiple years of service for vesting of those matching funds. Job security is also a huge benefit. A federal employee who chooses to do nothing, but fills out their time sheet correctly is very difficult to fire. They have to be placed on a PIP and demonstrably fail. They could simply choose to perform adequately during the PIP and then revert to incompetence. It's hardly worth a manager's time to try firing someone. I've known managers who either did, or attempting to do so and it requires extensive efforts and voluminous paperwork. In regard to making a million dollars - most people in private industry also can't make a million dollars. Someone who has the same job you have in private industry may earn the same salary or slightly, but your benefits and absolute job security more than balance it out.

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 Fed Symp Montana

Sen. Dean Heller and his bunch of crooks are the most idiots that I have ever seen in my life. When you work for the people (The federal government) they call it service. Civilian or military is still service. Why, because no federal employee make a million dollar even though they put their lives in line to serve the nation. In Iraq, at boarder with Mexico, landing on the moon, at air ports to prevent terrorist from coming into our country and even guard this stupid Sen. Dean Heller at Washington DC. Fellow citizens wake up. Do these hard working citizens make the same as the lazy folks at Wall Street? People talk of benefits. What do they mean by that? Do the federal employees make $500000.00 bonuses in any year? Then learn your math.

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