Unions blast furlough proposal

Federal employee unions decry a proposal to require unpaid leave as a cost-cutting measure.

Federal employee unions are taking a dim view of a Republican-endorsed bill that would force feds to take a two-week unpaid furlough next year.

The bill, H.R. 270, introduced last week by Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo), would require federal civilian employees take a non-consecutive, two-week furlough in 2012. Exceptions would be provided for those who work in positions of national security, public health and law enforcement.


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American Federation of Government Employees President John Gage questioned the wisdom of the bill.

“Requiring federal employees to take two weeks of unpaid leave would have a detrimental impact on the federal services and programs that millions of American taxpayers depend on,” Gage said. “Even though this proposed legislation would exempt employees in positions involving national security, law enforcement and public health and safety, every federal employee is vital to the effective operation of our government.”

William Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, said a provision contained in the bill to reduce the pay of members of Congress by 10 percent is largely window dressing. Dougan said rank-and-file members of Congress would still make $156,000 per year after a 10 percent reduction.

“Though this gesture may give the appearance of good faith, the true impact of this cut will be minimal,” Dougan said. “Compared to the burden carried by America’s civil servants, who have already seen their pay frozen this year, this reduction is disingenuous at best.”

Dougan noted that a slew of “anti-federal worker proposals” have appeared since the Republican majority took over control of the House, including bills to abolish union official time, to extend the already contentious two-year pay freeze to three years and eliminate 200,000 federal jobs.

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