Federal Workers and Retirees are Still Under Still Under Attack Now More than Ever

The President’s Management Agenda released by the administration in March, calls for reduction in staff, and the cutting of paychecks, benefits and workplace rights of federal employees around the country with a special focus on the IRS.

“With agencies not able to compete with the private sector on pay and salaries, retirement, health care, and leave are its chief recruitment and retention tools, and actively engaging in a race to the bottom in these areas will do great damage to the quality and skill of the federal workforce,” Reardon wrote in testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “I urge members of this Committee to reject these proposals and instead find ways to increase the federal government’s ability to be an employer of choice.”

NTEU strongly disagrees with the agenda’s premise that federal employees are overpaid and that their salaries are not tied to performance. The most recent Federal Salary Council’s analysis of government data shows federal employees on average make 31.86 percent LESS than their private sector counterparts. And the existing General Schedule has built-in provisions for rewarding employees for outstanding performance, but unfortunately those rewards have been getting smaller year after year.

Also on the administration’s hit list are retirement cuts that will slash the paychecks of current and future federal workers and reduce ALL pensions. The cuts will also worsen the nation’s retirement crisis. They have proposed: eliminating supplements for Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) annuitants who retire before being eligible for Social Security benefits. Reducing federal pensions by basing them on workers’ basic pay five-year averages instead of three years.

Increasing employee retirement contributions with no increase in benefits. The plan would sharply boost the 0.8 percent of basic pay most FERS employees contribute. The letter makes the impact on federal retirees clear. “Under this proposal, FERS employee deduction rates will increase by 1 percent per year until they reach 7.25 percent of basic pay. …This

proposal would require FERS employees to fund a greater portion of their retirement benefit.” Reducing or eliminating retirement cost-of-living adjustments. The administration plans “to reduce the cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) by one half of one percent and to eliminate COLAs under the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) for current and future retirees.”

“To be clear, the overall goal of these changes is to make federal workers pay more for their retirement benefits while getting less, further contributing to the retirement insecurity of the nation,” Reardon wrote. “These middle-class workers can ill afford a six to seven percent pay cut or a retirement benefit that fails to keep up with inflation, and ultimately these changes will require them to work longer at agencies into their senior years.”

The agenda also makes plain that the administration is intent on rolling back due process for federal workers and weakening the ability of federal sector unions to represent frontline employees and plans to give agencies the power to “fire at will.”

“Undermining the ability for career, non-partisan civil servants to appeal adverse employment actions turns federal workers into political employees who are hired and fired based on personal loyalty oaths, not their ability to do a job and makes them unwilling and unable to come forward to disclose government waste, fraud, and abuse,” Reardon wrote. “A merit-based civil service that works for the people, and not expressly for one individual, is a cornerstone of our republic, and eliminating the ability of employees to challenge a removal, would threaten our government, and the public’s confidence that employees’ service is performed in the interest of our nation, and not for personal gain or interests.”

Make no mistake.  Internal Revenue Service employees are under a brutal attack by the powers that be in Washington DC. But rest assured that NTEU is fighting these attacks to protect and save the pay, benefits, and careers of all IRS employees.

How can you help?

Join the Union. If you are already a member and know someone who isn’t ask them to join.  There is strength in numbers. Remember: United We Bargain. Divided We Beg. Get involved! NTEU73 is deeply involved with the legislative process. We run letter writing campaigns, run phone banks at election time, send in petitions and also help register voters. We can always use help and hope that everyone will get involved.

Consider becoming a Union Steward and fighting the good fight. Remember you are not only fighting for others but also for yourself. (Come to the Union Office for details!)

This is a battle that we must all fight together.

Get involved!  Stand up!  Fight back!