Kelley Urges Rejection of Ryan Anti-Federal Employee Budget


 The civil service in the United States is one of the best in the world, but it cannot survive if drastic cuts in personnel and resources are instituted as proposed in the House Budget Resolution passed this year, NTEU National President Colleen Kelley warned in this letter to House members.

President Kelley urged members to oppose H. Con. Res. 34, the budget resolution advanced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee. The House is expected to vote on the resolution this week.

The document contains undisguised frontal attacks on federal workers, including proposing a five-year pay freeze, a 10 percent reduction in the federal workforce and an increase in employee contributions to their pensions which would amount to the equivalent of a 6 percent pay cut.

“NTEU members work every day to protect your borders, your travel, your food, your veterans, your investments, your safety nets,” Kelley wrote. “I urge you to oppose this budget. 

The NTEU leader said the Ryan proposal uses “the same tired arguments advanced by libertarian and right-wing ‘think tanks’” that federal workers are overpaid. On the contrary, she said, the President’s Pay Agent—made up of the Secretary of Labor and the directors of the Office of Management and Budget and Office of Personnel Management—has concluded that federal pay lags 22 percent behind private sector pay in comparable jobs.

Moreover, while Rep. Ryan apparently believes there are too many federal workers, Kelley wrote, “I can only tell you that NTEU members have been doing their work with a reduced number of people for years.”

She added that while the number of government employees may have risen in the last year, “that is only because the government realized that contractors were being overpaid for what they were doing and brought those jobs back into the government.”

The federal workforce “simply cannot provide the basic services the country has come to depend on with 10 percent fewer people,” she said, adding that while the number of federal employees has actually been constant over the last 20 years, “the services they provide have increased significantly.”

President Kelley also told House members that on the matter of federal retirements, “Rep. Ryan repeats the fallacious argument that federal employees somehow have a sweetheart deal. That is simply untrue.”

Kelley said that federal retirement “is very much in line with the private sector,” noting that those under the Federal Employees Retirement System have an average salary replacement rate of 36.5 percent, compared to an average replacement rate of 47.3 percent in the private sector.

Some of the Ryan proposals in the retirement arena are unclear, Kelley said, but what is very clear is that under it, federal employees would suffer a substantial pay cut, on top of a pay freeze.

Like every American, she added, federal employees seek a safe and healthy retirement. “It is unfortunate this goal cannot be realized by some in these tough economic times, but as the employer of the federal workforce, Congress cannot shirk its responsibility to provide a decent retirement for its workforce.”

Finally, Kelley noted that Rep Ryan has indicated these three proposals impacting federal workers would result in $375 billion not spent by the government over 10 years—money the congressman would use to pay for proposed 10 percent tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and corporations.