3/2/12: At a spirited rally of hundreds of NTEU members to support federal employees this week, five House members and a senator joined NTEU National President Colleen Kelley in declaring that ‘enough is enough’ when it comes to continuing attacks on the pay, benefits and worth of the federal workforce.
Those members of Congress who support the work of federal employees have “a different vision” than those who attack federal workers, Sen. Ben Cardin said. “It is a vision that expands the middle class.” The crowd of NTEU members that filled both the lower floor and balcony of the auditorium in the Capitol Visitors Center picked up the chant—“Enough Is Enough”—as Sen. Cardin finished his remarks.
The rally, which was part of NTEU’s annual legislative conference and was scheduled to be outside on the Capitol grounds, was moved to the Capitol Visitors Center at the last minute because of rain. It focused, in part, on the contributions federal workers already have made to deficit reduction and pension contributions from newly-hired workers as well as the value of their work to the nation.
President Kelley, who noted that the twin pay and pension hits on federal employees will total some $75 billion, said the federal workforce is “the only group being singled out in this way.” Emphasizing that it is “time for shared sacrifice,” she said this has got to stop, adding that middle class Americans and federal workers are one and the same.
Kelley and Sen. Cardin were joined in the auditorium by a number of strong congressional supporters of federal workers: House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), and Reps. John Sarbanes (Md.), James Moran (Va.), Gerry Connolly (Va.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.).
In forceful remarks, Rep. Moran referred to the 2010 midterm elections and said it produced a number of new members of Congress who “ran on the thesis that the federal government is not working for you. Now they’re doing everything they can to prove that.”
In his remarks, Rep. Sarbanes said he was “sick and tired” of federal workers being blamed for what is wrong in American. “In fact,” he said, “you are responsible for much of what is right.” Keep fighting, he told the NTEU members from around the country. “We’re there for you.”
Del. Norton said that federal pay and benefits do not make up a piggy bank that members of Congress can dip into in order to fund bills such as a proposed highway measure. “That piggy bank is not yours,” she said, of those in Congress who would cut or divert money and benefits earned by federal workers.
Rep. Hoyer, who was greeted with loud cheers, said that an assault on federal workers means that “all of us are under attack.” He urged the NTEU members and their colleagues back home to continuing speaking out not just on the issues in Congress but on the wide range of vital services federal employees provide. “In unity, there is strength,” he said. “In unity, your voice is louder.”
Hoyer said that federal employees “are making sure government works better,” and that they play a critical role as “public partners with the private sector to make America better.”
In that vein, Rep. Connolly called for federal employees to display “passion for what you do and for who you are.” If you do, he added, “Passion will prevail.”