House Committee Approves Anti-Federal Employee Legislation


 4/14/11: Yesterday the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved by voice vote H.R. 828, the “Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2011,” which requires the federal government to fire federal employees if they have a tax debt.  In advance of the hearing, NTEU wrote to every member of the committee outlining our opposition to the legislation. In our letter, we noted that requiring federal employees who are already facing a two-year pay freeze and a potential unpaid furlough, to immediately pay back taxes or be terminated is unfair, especially in light of the fact that members of Congress, who will be paid during any government shutdown, would be exempt should they owe back taxes. 

We also worked with our supporters on the committee including Representative Stephen Lynch (MA), to improve the bill by ensuring federal employees were provided with some due process rights that all taxpayers are entitled to as well as those afforded federal employees under chapter 75 of Title 5. Representative Lynch’s amendment would exempt from termination those employees whose wages were already being levied by the IRS, and would provide them with 60 days to dispute any determination they are ineligible to continue their employment. It also allows an employee to continue to serve, in a situation of financial hardship, on a case-by-case basis. While we believe the changes included in Representative Lynch’s amendment improved the bill, we still believe the bill is excessive, unnecessary, and may ultimately increase the likelihood that the government will never receive the taxes it is owed.

The committee also approved by a vote of 15 to 14, H.R. 1470, which will require a minimum two-year probationary period for all employees. In a letter of opposition sent to committee members in advance of the vote, NTEU noted the legislation is unnecessary as there is no evidence that the current probationary period should be extended. We also noted that after a year on the job, employees have been trained and exposed to all of the major demands of the job, so managers should know whether they can acceptably perform the job. 

During consideration of the bill, Representative Gerry Connolly (VA) attempted to offer an amendment that would have substituted the text of the bill with the “Federal Supervisor Training Act” (H.R. 1492) introduced yesterday by Representative Jim Moran (VA). This important legislation would require supervisors in the federal government receive training within one year of being appointed a supervisor on a variety of topics, including worker performance and employee collective bargaining rights. NTEU supports H.R. 1492 and believes it would ensure that supervisors are able to adequately assess the ability of employees to perform their jobs within the current one-year probationary period. Unfortunately, Representative Connolly’s amendment was ruled out of order, and thus was not provided the opportunity to be voted on.

You can be assured that NTEU will continue to vigorously oppose these misguided anti-federal employee bills.