5/15/12: There is no place in the highway funding bill currently under discussion by House-Senate conferees for a provision to change federal pensions to fund that measure, NTEU National President Colleen Kelley told conferees in this letter today.
“Further cuts to federal compensation will seriously impair the government’s ability to attract or retain talented employees and should not even be under consideration in this conference committee,” wrote President Kelley.
The NTEU leader was responding to reports that one or more of the conferees had raised the idea of providing savings for S. 1813, the transportation bill, by making changes to federal pension programs. Neither the highway bill approved by the House nor the companion measure passed by the Senate contains such a provision.
“No one gets rich on a federal employee pension,” President Kelley wrote. In fact, she said, the average defined benefit portion for workers under the Federal Employees Retirement System is approximately $1,000 per month.
“Changing the employee contribution without changing the benefits in a similar way is simply a tax on federal employees,” she wrote.
Kelley noted pointedly that middle class federal workers are “the only group singled out so far to contribute to deficit reduction,” losing $60 billion over 10 years because of a two-year pay freeze, and another $15 billion in pension contribution increases to pay for part of the payroll tax holiday. “The only reasonable route to reduce the deficit is through shared sacrifice,” she said.