1/25/12: NTEU National President Colleen Kelley today commended 17 House members for their expression of support for the federal workforce in urging a congressional conference committee to oppose additional cuts to federal pay or benefits to pay for an extension of the payroll tax holiday.
“These members of Congress represent many thousands of federal employees and they are well aware of the significant contributions these dedicated working men and women make to our nation,” said President Kelley. “Every federal employee welcomes their support.”
The NTEU leader previously has called on the 20-member bipartisan conference committee to avoid such cuts, emphasizing not only that federal employees already have contributed $60 billion over 10 years to deficit reduction through a two-year pay freeze but that they are subject to the same economic pressures as other Americans.
The 17 House members signed onto a letter to the conferees organized by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The letter said that “subjecting these dedicated public servants to additional pay cuts and benefit reductions in order to pay for such expenditures as a payroll tax cut for all middle class Americans is unfair and illogical, particularly as the vast majority of federal workers are middle income earners as well.”
It added that “such cuts would also impede the federal government’s efforts to recruit and retain the best and brightest individuals.”
The House members particularly urged rejection of proposals approved earlier by the House that would extend the pay freeze for a third year, impose a 1.5 percent increase in federal employees’ retirement contributions over a three-year period with no increase in annuity; eliminate the Federal Employees Retirement System Social Security supplement for most federal workers, and make other changes that would reduce the annuity payments of federal employees.
The Cummings letter also underscored a position often stressed by President Kelley—namely, the important work regularly performed on behalf of the public by federal employees.
“Our federal public servants are the hard-working men and women who provide vital operational support to our military members; ensure our senior citizens receive their Social Security checks; protect our borders; ensure the safety of our environment, food and water; treat our wounded veterans; and research cures for cancer and other deadly diseases,” it said.
Moreover, the House members emphasized that federal employees “reside in every state, and implement every federal program created by Congress.”
In addition to Rep. Cummings, the letter was signed by Reps. Stephen Lynch, ranking member of the Oversight Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce; Gerald Connolly (Va.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), Edolphus Towns (N.Y.), William Lacy Clay (Mo.), Danny K. Davis (Ill.), Bruce Braley (Iowa), James Moran (Va.), Bennie Thompson (Miss.), Lynn Woolsey (Calif.), James McGovern (Mass.), Adam Schiff (Calif.), John Sarbanes (Md.), Donna Edwards (Md.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes-North (D.C.).