Friday, February 22, 2013

AFGE Week in Review - Feb. 22, 2013 - AFGE: No Furloughs

Feb. 22, 2013

AFGE: No Furloughs! Sequestration to cut agency budgets starts March 1 and furloughs of federal employees will begin late March or April. Check out AFGE’s Sequestration Central page for complete information.

Alternatives to Sequestration


House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Suggests Cutting Federal Employees’ Retirement Benefits to Avoid Sequestration: In another display of disdain for federal employees and working families, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor this week suggested that to avoid sequestration, the government should slash federal employees’ pension to generate another $21 billion on top of the $122 billion federal employees have already contributed to the deficit reduction. The Virginia congressman came up with a list of programs that need to be cut, none of which were subsidies to oil and drug companies or big corporations.

Much better

Van Hollen, Murray Introduce Bills to Stop Sequestration: House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray introduced bills that would replace sequestration – at least until 2014. The Van Hollen bill would delay sequestration by one year and replace the $85 billion cuts in 2013 with a mix of tax increases and spending cuts. It has the so-called Buffett rule that would require a minimum tax rate of 30% for those earning more than $1 million a year. It would repeal tax subsidies for oil and gas companies, eliminate direct payment programs to farmers, and increase flood insurance premiums. Most of these taxes and spending cuts would be spread out over 10 years.

The Murray bill calls for new savings of $120 billion, half of which would come from tax hikes on the wealthy. The bill would raise $55 billion in revenues from closing loopholes for oil companies and corporations that ship jobs overseas. Families making more than $1 million a year would have to pay at least 30% of their income on federal taxes. On the spending side, the bill targets defense spending and direct payment to large farmers in order to generate $55 billion in savings. These spending cuts would spread out over time from 2014 until 2021. The remaining $10 billion would come from interest savings.

And those wanting to have their cake and eat it too: As Congress is still far apart on how to deal with the manufactured crisis of deficit reduction, many assume the across-the-board cuts will happen, and so they are out lobbying the administration and agencies to divert cuts from their districts. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, for example, asked the Army Corps of Engineers to spare water projects along the Mississippi River. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine asked the Navy to protect the ship building industry at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

“Maine is a state that contributes heavily to our national security,” she said. “Its largest employer is Bath Ironworks, which builds naval destroyers. You can’t build a half a ship.”

It’s ironic that some lawmakers talk about making “tough decisions” that will devastate everyone else, but those tough decisions should never be made in their own backyard.

8 in 10 Americans Prefer Combination of Taxes and Cuts to Reduce Deficit: The majority of Americans prefer President Barack Obama’s approach to deficit reduction. According to a new poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, 76% of those surveyed say Congress should focus on a combination of spending cuts and tax increases to reduce the budget deficit. Only 19% believe tax increases should be off the table, an approach preferred by many House lawmakers, who reject any plans that would stop sequestration but include a tax hike.

AFGE Members Raise Concern with Sen. Carl Levin’s Staffers on His Vote to Cut DoD Workforce by 5%: AFGE activists were in town last week for the legislative conference, and they went to Capitol Hill to meet with their representatives to discuss our issues. It’s not easy to confront lawmakers who voted wrong, but this Local did it. AFGE Local 1658 members led by Local President Paul Veselenak met with staffers of Sen. Carl Levin to voice our concern over the Michigan senator’s recent vote in support of a measure authored by Sen. John McCain that requires the department to eliminate up to 37,000 civilian jobs by 2017. They made it clear that AFGE members were very upset that Sen. Levin voted against us. 

D.C. Renames Labor-Management Council in Honor of Late AFGE NVP Bowman: D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray last week announced that the District of Columbia Labor Management Partnership Council (DCLMPC) Strategic Plan would be renamed in honor of AFGE’s former national vice president for 14th District Dwight Bowman, who passed away unexpectedly on January 16.

This Week in Labor History: Feb. 19, 1975 – The U.S. Supreme Court decides in favor of sales clerk Leura Collins and her union, the Retail Clerks, in NLRB v. J. Weingarten Inc. The case establishing that workers have a right to request the presence of their union steward if they believe they are to be disciplined for a workplace infraction.

This Week’s Blog: In 'And the Oscar Goes to...the Sequester!', writer and producer Gavin Shulman compares the sequester to the latest sequel to a movie no one wanted to see.

“Washington is officially the new Hollywood. Turning out thrillers straight monthly. I mean, how sick was The Fiscal Cliff? I watched it at least three times over Christmas break. That scene with the Republicans caving. It was even better than The Debt Ceiling Debacle. When the Democrats got destroyed. And as psyched as I am for The Sequester, I already can't wait for the next big blockbuster, The Continuing Budget Resolution. The trailers for that look amazing. Not to mention all the potential spin-offs, like The Austerity Bomb and The Bully Pulpit. We're living in the golden age of spinema.” 

This Week’s Tweet: “If everybody agrees sequester is a mistake, instead of arguing whose idea it was, why not repeal and revert to regular budget process?” @davidfrum
Hot on YouTube: Project Glass. What’s it like to wear a computer on your face?

Hot on WWW: Incarcerated dog to be reunited with owner after story goes viral.

Inside Government: A special presentation from the union’s Legislative and Grassroots Mobilization Conference originally aired on Friday, Feb. 15, is now available on demand.

  • Rep. Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii detailed federal employees’ value as the government’s best investment and the long-term consequences of freezing federal pay.
  • Clayola Brown, president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, addressed the importance of union organizing and why unions are needed now more than ever.
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) President Lee Saunders detailed the need for workers to voice their concerns to Congress.
  • Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe shared his vision to improve transportation systems and education in Virginia.
  • Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland talked to AFGE at our joint rally for jobs with AFSCME.
Listen LIVE on Fridays at 10 a.m. on 1500 AM WFED in the D.C. area or online at For more information, please visit

Quote of the Week: Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah on how he supports self-inflicted sequestration even though it would be devastating to our nation’s readiness. From the Salt Lake Tribune on Feb. 20:
"I’m for sequestration," Hatch said, if Congress can’t cut spending. "We’ve got to face the music now, or it will be much tougher later."
With across-the-board spending cuts set to kick in next week, Hatch said sequestration would lead to an economic disaster in Utah as two-thirds of civilians working at Hill Air Force Base would be furloughed. He said it would be "devastating to our nation’s readiness."

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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