Friday, April 5, 2013

AFGE Statement on Obama Budget Plan Cutting Federal Retirement

April 5, 2013
AFGE Statement on Obama Budget Plan Cutting Federal Retirement: AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. today issued the following statement in response to reports that President Obama will propose $35 billion in cuts to federal employee retirement as part of his fiscal 2014 budget to be unveiled next week:
"The poets remind us that it is easier to forgive an enemy than a friend.  But it is hard to forgive our friend President Obama when his administration continues to act more and more like our enemies. His administration has frozen our pay for three years. It oversaw and approved shifting retirement system costs for new employees that will lower their salaries by 2.3% forever. The administration signed the Budget Control Act that brought us the sequester. It is implementing the sequester by imposing lengthy furloughs on federal workers while leaving the larger and costlier contractor workforce untouched. It pushes a cruel cut to Social Security, veterans', and federal employee retirement benefits through the chained CPI."
"And now, a final act of betrayal. The White House proposes a fiscal 2014 budget with $35 billion MORE in retirement system cuts, accelerating the race to the bottom for federal workers and their families. We cannot understand how an administration that claims to stand up for working and middle class Americans can simultaneously push policies that would impose such enormous pain on its own workforce. This proposal is as unnecessary as it is cruel, and we urge lawmakers to reject it entirely."
New List of Agencies That Avoid Furloughs: Over the past few weeks, more agencies have announced they won't furlough employees and will instead look for ways to generate savings as called for under the across the board cuts known as sequestration. So far, the following agencies either plan to avoid furloughs or don't feel the need to do so right now: (See the agency-by-agency list from the National Journal here.)
National Park Service, State Department, Agriculture (food inspectors), National Institutes of Health, NASA, TSA, Government Accountability Office, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Office of Personnel Management, Small Business Administration, SSA, Government Printing Office, Treasury, and Broadcasting Board of Governors.
"Because of your calls, letters, and rallies on March 20, several agencies have already cut down on their furlough days or cancelled them altogether," said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. "Our work is paying off, but we still have a lot of work to do. Things are still not okay with federal and D.C. workers, and AFGE will not surrender."
CBP Delays Furloughs: The Customs and Border Protection this week announced it has decided to delay the planned furloughs of border patrol agents following the passage of the 2013 spending bill last month. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano this week reportedly said the agency might be able to maintain the current staffing levels. AFGE is cautiously optimistic.
"While it appears as though Congress appropriated sufficient funds to pay the salaries of Border Patrol agents within the current Continuing Resolution, CBP has yet to make a decision on the spending plan," the AFGE National Border Patrol Council said in a statement. "Consequently, the proposed plans and indecision have unnecessarily caused Border Patrol agents and their families to worry about their safety at work and the uncertainty of their financial stability."
AFGE Slams Pentagon for Approving Massive Increase in Contracts While Slashing Civilian Employee Pay by One-fifth: AFGE today rebuked the Department of Defense for awarding contracts worth tens of billions of dollars in March, even as the Pentagon says it will force about 700,000 civilian employees to stay home for nearly three work weeks without pay. According to an article published by Bloomberg Government, the Pentagon announced contracts valued at as much as $39.4 billion in March, a 71 % increase from the prior month. Meanwhile, DoD said it will have to furlough most of its civilian employees for 14 days between June and September because of automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. The unpaid furloughs will result in a 20% pay cut for the department's 700,000 blue-collar and white-collar workers. It will save the Pentagon about $2.5 billion for the rest of the fiscal year, or about 0.8% of the $300 billion DoD will spend on goods and services contracts this year.
Last week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that nearly all civilian employees would be furloughed for 14 days, instead of the 22 days the department had originally proposed, and called it "good news" for employees. He claimed that there was no way to avoid the furloughs altogether, even though other agencies have been able to comply with the law without resorting to furloughs, including the Army Corps of Engineers.
"Secretary Hagel seems to believe that we should be happy with the crumbs he has thrown our way. Meanwhile, he's invited contractors back to the table to resume their feast," AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.
AFGE Coast Guard Council Nominated for Labor Management Corporation Award: The AFGE Council 120 (Coast Guard) has been nominated for the Society of Federal Labor and Employee Relations Professionals (SFLERP) 2013 Labor Management Cooperation Award. Council 120 was formed five years ago but has accomplished much despite significant challenges including the massive reorganizations that affected most bargaining unit employees across the country. These reorganizations took place as the Coast Guard was on the frontline responding to several national disasters that garnered the national spotlight. Needless to say, the past several years were wrought with potential labor-management landmines that could have derailed the partnership. The agency took seriously President Obama's executive order which created labor-management forums and has involved the union in pre-decisional discussions. The collaborative efforts require great trust, respect and a shared goal.
Obama to Give up 5% of His Salary: President Barack Obama is reportedly giving up 5% of his $400,000 annual salary to show solidarity with federal employees facing unpaid furloughs. Besides Obama, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and some lawmakers have announced they will voluntarily take a pay cut in face of sequestration. But AFGE believes there is a better way to actually make a difference.
"Temp and part-time workers are being fired," said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. "The president and Congress should cancel the furloughs and cuts instead of giving up part of their salaries."
Feds Not Happy with Senior Leadership: Federal employees haven't been very happy with their agency leadership, and the most recent survey shows things are getting worse. According to an analysis of Best Places to Work in the Federal Government data by the Partnership for Public Service, satisfaction with leadership dropped in 2012 for the first time since the Best Places to Work rankings were published in 2003. On a scale of 100, the leadership score was 52.8, 2.1 points lower than 2011. Each agency scored differently, but at the bottom of the list of large agencies were the usual suspects – the departments of Veterans Affairs (#18) and Homeland Security (#19).
"The decrease in satisfaction with senior leaders is especially worrisome," the report said. "Federal employee attitudes toward their leadership are a major influence on job satisfaction and commitment and have a significant impact on performance, the ability of agencies to fulfil their critical missions and to provide top-notch service to the American people. The negative trends in federal leadership that are apparent in the 2012 Best Places to Work scores should be a call to action."
The Partnership offers suggestions for agency leaders, such as holding themselves accountable, listening to employees' concerns, rewarding jobs well done, communicating better, discussing obstacles, and offering constructive and timely feedback.
Leading House Lawmaker on Armed Services Committee Calls on Colleagues to Cancel Furloughs: House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith of Washington is urging his colleagues to sign on to a letter asking the Pentagon to rethink the decision to furlough civilian workers, fire temporary and term employees, and put hiring on hold. In the letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Rep. Smith said the furloughs were announced on January 10, long before the department knew the specific funding levels that would be available for the rest of fiscal 2013. Congress last month increased funding to the department's Operation and Maintenance accounts by an amount that exceeds the anticipated savings from the planned furloughs.
"It is increasingly clear that these actions are threatening to undermine mission performance and as a result, mission readiness," Rep. Smith wrote. "To date we have been told only that all civilian furloughs are being applied in the same manner across the department, regardless of whether a service component or defense agency has the resources to buy back the furlough days."
AFGE has asked our Locals to reach out to their House lawmakers to sign on to the letter.
OPM Director John Berry to Step Down: Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry is leaving the position as the administration's top human resources chief next week. According to news reports, he's a leading candidate to become the next U.S. ambassador to Australia.
General Counsel David Borer Appears on Fox Business: AFGE General Counsel David Borer this week discussed furloughs with Neil Cavuto on Fox Business. Watch it here.
New AFL-CIO/Union Plus Jobs and Freedom Scholarships Honor 50th Anniversary of March on Washington: Aug. 28 marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. To commemorate the historic 1963 march, the AFL-CIO, in partnership with Union Plus, announced today a new Dreams of Jobs and Freedom Scholarship program. The scholarships will provide $5,000 each to at least 50 talented high school seniors— including those from union families—to help pay for the costs of higher education. The scholarships are designed to honor the legacy of the March on Washington by helping young people across the country turn their dream of attaining higher education into a reality. Students can apply online: The application deadline is July 1, 2013.
This Week in Labor History: April 1, 1990 – The U.S. minimum wage increases to $3.80 per hour.
This Week's Tweet: "Instead of giving back salary, Hagel should revisit indiscriminate furloughs and firings of temps and terms. ~ @threlj (John Threlkeld, AFGE)
Hot on WWW: Head-Banging Sea Lion Intrigues Scientists.

Inside Government: Tune in now to AFGE's "Inside Government" for the union's response to the Defense Department's furlough plan. The show, which originally aired on Friday, April 5, is now available on demand.

  • AFGE Defense Conference Chair Don Hale analyzed the Pentagon's plan to reduce furlough days from 22 to 14 for civilian employees and the impact furloughs would have on workers and public service delivery. Hale also suggested alternate ways the Pentagon could trim costs from its budget.
  • AFGE 14th District National Vice President Eric Bunn then discussed his top priorities as newly elected national vice president and the impact of sequestration on District 14 members.
  • AFGE General Counsel David Borer highlighted the union's latest legal victories and the value of workplace representation for federal employees.
  • Lastly, AFGE National Border Patrol Council Vice President Shawn Moran addressed sequestration's impact on border security and Border Patrol agents.
Quote of the Week: AFGE National Border Patrol Council Vice President At Large Shawn Moran on the Customs and Border Protection's decision to delay the furloughs:

"We do have a well-founded fear that CBP will not do the right thing and ultimately make a decision that will leave the border in an insecure state."

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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