Saturday, April 14, 2012

AFGE Week in Review - April 13, 2012

April 13, 2012
Public Disagrees with Right Wing’s Budget Priorities: Americans don’t see eye to eye with the right wing’s approach to creating jobs and rebuilding the economy. According to a new Bloomberg poll, 51 percent of respondents believe government investments is a better approach to creating jobs than spending cuts and tax cuts, which was favored by 41 percent of respondents. An overwhelming 68 percent don’t think it’s reasonable for the wealthy and hedge fund managers to pay only 15 percent on their share of profits from investments while regular wages are taxed as high as 35 percent. Only 17 percent of respondents think it’s reasonable. The House last month passed a 2013 budget proposal that would deeply cut government investments and give away tax breaks to the wealthy and big corporations while protecting the 15 percent tax rate for hedge fund managers. 

Contractors Seek Legal Standing to Challenge Insourcing: Having lost all the lawsuits against government agencies that have brought outsourced work back in house, service contractors are now pushing for legislation that would allow them to sue the government for insourcing. H.R. 3893, introduced in February, would do just that and more. It would allow contractors to sue the government even though the outsourced functions are inherently governmental or critical. It would prevent agencies from insourcing unless their insourcing policies had been published for comment and had been reviewed by an agency contractor advocate, even though there is no publication requirement for outsourcing policies, let alone one that requires outsourcing policies be reviewed by federal employee advocates.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, has been approved by the House Small Business Committee and will likely be attached to the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Bill during its mark up later this month. AFGE is organizing pro-federal employee amendments.

Former Delaware Senator Defends Government Employees: Former Delaware senator Ted Kaufman has had enough of fed bashing. In an op-ed for the Wilmington News Journal, which was reposted on HuffingtonPost, he asked why we accept the fact that the private sector has to pay well to attract the best and the brightest but state and federal governments shouldn’t. He said the government needs the best teachers, fire fighters, police officers, scientists, researchers, and food inspectors. But instead their pay and benefits are being attacked, despite the fact that the average private sector salary for a recent college graduate was $48,661 in 2010 but entry-level federal employees make between $34,075-$42,209. Kaufman pointed out that the number of students planning to work in the public sector has gone down by 40 percent while federal retirements have gone up by 24 percent.

“We are losing the very people we need to make us successful,” he wrote. “We need to take a hard look at pensions, but it is important in a fair society that reforms take into account the fact that over the years many public employees helped meet government budgets by forgoing salary increases in return for ironclad promises about pension benefits.”
A Millionaire Who Calls for Tax Hikes: Hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson is joining millionaire Warren Buffet in calling on other millionaires to make a sacrifice and pay their fair share. In a Washington Post op-ed, Tilson, who are a member of Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, said he supports President Obama’s Buffet Rule that calls for higher taxes for millionaires to make sure that they are not paying lower tax rates than middle-class Americans.
“Why am I okay with this? The answer has to do with simple math and basic fairness,” he wrote. “This country is running enormous and unsustainable budget deficits that will bankrupt us all if they are not narrowed — and there is no way to do that without both cutting spending and raising revenue. (Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge is pie-in-the-sky fantasy and dangerous demagoguery.) Everyone is going to have to make sacrifices as part of a comprehensive budget deal along the lines of Simpson-Bowles, with tens of millions of people getting smaller entitlement benefits, for example, and tens of millions of people paying higher taxes.
It’s not class warfare to say that people like me — who aren’t suffering at all in these tough economic times, who are in many cases doing the best we’ve ever done and who can easily afford to pay more in taxes with no impact on our lifestyle — should be the first to step up and make a small sacrifice.”
Read the entire piece here.
Little Known Right Wing Group That Writes State Laws: Whether suppressing the right to vote, union busting, promoting school and prison privatization, or weakening the new health care law and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this little known right wing group has done it all. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was founded by the same guy who founded the Heritage Foundation, Paul Weyrich. It’s funded by big corporations and the usual suspects like the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil. According to a recent study by ProgressVA, ALEC writes model legislation on various subjects that reflect right-wing agenda and cater to campaign donors in dozens of states. In 2009, for example, 826 ALEC bills were introduced in statehouses, and 115 were enacted into law. In Virginia alone, over 50 ALEC-drafted bills have been introduced, many word for word, in the Virginia General Assembly over the past few years. A bill that makes it more difficult for the poor, the disabled, and minorities to vote has passed both chambers. A bill that undermines the individual mandate under the new health care law has been signed into law and become a basis for the lawsuit against the federal government. Eleven other states have enacted ALEC-drafted bills to repeal the new health care law. Lawmakers who are members of the group can log on to its Web site and find hundreds of bills to copy on various issues. It also has publications such as EPA’s Regulatory Train Wreck, which lays out strategies for state legislature.

This Week in Labor History: On April 14, 1930, more than 100 Mexican and Filipino farm workers were arrested for union activities in Imperial Valley, California.
Tweet of the Week: “On June 6, 1985, Pres Reagan called for change in tax code "that have allowed some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share." ~@markknoller
Trivia Question: In 1978, which landmark legislation that AFGE helped secure passage of affects every federal employee to this day?
Inside Government: Tune in now to AFGE’s “Inside Government” for more discussion about the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The show, which originally aired on Friday, April 6, is now available on demand.  U.S. Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), and Donna Christensen (Virgin Islands), addressed health care reform in the U.S. as the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden, Common Cause President and CEO and former Rep. Bob Edgar (Pa.), and Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative President Vinny DeMarco also joined in the discussion.
Listen LIVE on Fridays at 10 a.m. on 1500 AM WFED in the D.C. area or online at

Trivia Answer: The Civil Service Reform Act, which expanded collective bargaining rights for government workers and created the Federal Labor Relations Authority, loosely modeled after the National Labor Relations Board that governs labor relations in the private sector. In codifying these rights in law rather than relying on presidential executive orders, AFGE protected federal employees when the anti-union administrations of Reagan and Bush sought to destroy their rights. Had federal employees been protected solely by executive orders, these rights most likely would have been lost with the stroke of a president’s pen.

American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO 80 F Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001 | Tel. (202) 737-8700 | Fax (202) 639-6492 |

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