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The Heritage Foundation Takes Aim At Federal Workers

Federal Workers beware. Republicans and the Heritage Foundation are coming to steal your pay and slash your benefits.

heritage-foundation-logoThe Heritage Foundation, a well known right-wing think tank started by the Koch brothers, released a new report that directly targets federal workers in the ongoing race to the bottom.

The majority of the savings would come from eliminating any defined contribution plan or pension, as part of a workers retirement package and forcing workers into the government’s defined contribution plan, a 401K called the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).

From reporting by Government Executive online:

“New hires and workers with less than five years of experience should be shifted to a more generous defined contribution system exclusively — with a maximum government match of 8 percent of employees’ salaries into their Thrift Savings Plan accounts — while employees already retired, separated or with 25 years experience should be grandfathered into the current system, the think tank said.

Those with between five and 25 years of federal service would be given three different options enabling them to either keep the same basic structure while contributing more toward their pensions, or to freeze or stop their defined benefit in favor of a more generous TSP contribution.”

Their plan would steal a workers pension and in trade give them the option to add an additional 3% in contributions to their TSP.

Working people across the country are already struggling to pay their bills as wages have stagnated but the Heritage Foundation wants workers to fund their own retirements by taking more out of their paychecks.

The private sector shifted to 401K retirements over the last two decades as a way to reduce their operating costs and force the employee to plan and fund their own retirement. The loss of employer-funded pensions is also why many seniors are forced to work well past retirement age and rely more on Social Security to pay their bills.

The Heritage Foundation also suggests that lawmakers make it easier to fire workers by reducing the “burden of proof necessary to fire” workers and expanding the probationary period for workers three fold.

On top of that the Heritage Foundation want Congress to cut federal workers vacation time (Annual Leave) and Sick Leave to replace it with a “paid time off” system. This means if a worker gets sick they would not longer have a bank of Sick Leave to draw from but would have to draw from their total PTO time. This is the same program that has screwed private sector workers out of their paid sick leave.

The report does not indicate whether or not a worker would be allowed to carry over any unused PTO like they can with Annual and Sick leave now.

Lastly the Heritage suggested that Congress should strip away all retirement health benefits from workers yet to be hired.

Right-wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation like to tell everyone that federal workers are overpaid and have outrageous benefit packages but many others argue that is not the case.

“Federal employees remain significantly underpaid compared to their private sector counterparts, according to a review by a group advising the president on federal wages, with feds’ pay lagging 35 percent behind non-federal workers performing similar jobs,” wrote Government Executive in a 2015 article.

Jessica Klement, legislative director of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association told GovExec that, “federal pay lags behind industry in many sectors and large companies often offer benefits the government does not.”

“If anything, the federal government should start to emulate those practices, not move further away from attracting top talent to serve our nation,” Klement added.

David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, called the report a “vicious” attack on the federal workforce.

“It is disgusting to advocate for cutting the pay for the people who care for our veterans, patrol our borders, and inspect our food, while showering the wealthy with billions in tax cuts,” Cox said.

Private sector workers are already feeling the downward pressure of the ongoing race to the bottom. They have already begun to lose their healthcare benefits, the vacation time, and their pay. Now wealthy business elites, with the help of their “think tank” the Heritage Foundation, have turned their sights on federal workers.

We need to stop letting these wealthy business executives and greedy politicians pit worker against worker. The result will leave working people suffering while they reap all the benefits of our hard work.

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About Matt Murray

Matt Murray is the creator and an author on the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor and progressive politics. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message. Follow him on Twitter @NHLabor_News
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