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Federal Workers Get Ready Here Comes Congressman Ryan

 Paul Ryan

Congress only has a few more days to act before they take their much UN-needed vacation from Washington.   This Congress is on pace to reach a new record setting low, as the most unproductive Congress in history.

The biggest issue right now — aside from immigration, the ACA, jobs, and the economy, which they are not even talking about right now – is the Federal Budget.  What will be the spending level for the next six months, year, or decade?  That is the million-dollar or should I say trillion-dollar question.

To end the forced government shutdown the parties agreed to finally sit down and hammer out the details of a budget.  Sen. Patty Murray would present her Senate budget and Rep. Paul Ryan would present the House budget.  They were tasked with leading a committee of conference between the two chambers and finalizing a deal that would pass through both houses.   The budget committee has until Dec 13th to report back to the House and Senate leaders with a compromised budget plan.

The key is that if they do not pass a budget on Dec 13 (oh thats Friday the 13th , eerie) they are scheduled to leave for winter break and return in early January.  This would mean that Congress would have about one week to get the budget passed through the House, the Senate, and be signed by the President by January 15th when current funding resolution expires.

Some members of Congress think this is unacceptable and are calling on Speaker Boehner to keep Congress in session until a budget is passed.

This week the beltway press has started reporting on the budget deals being tossed around and there is good news and bad news.  Government Executive is reporting that Sen. Murray and Rep. Ryan are very close to a two-year deal that “set spending levels and soften sequester cuts.” Of course that is if Murray and Ryan can come to an agreement first.

In a meeting with conservative lawmakers on Thursday morning, Ryan told them to expect the framework of a budget agreement to be announced on Tuesday, giving both parties time to study its components.

“If we don’t have a deal by Tuesday, we probably won’t have a deal at all,” Ryan said, according to people in the room.”  (GovExec)

Ezra Klien’s Wankblog is also reporting some good news about the proposed budget.

The budget deal Patty Murray and Paul Ryan are crafting isn’t a “grand bargain.” It doesn’t put the nation’s finances on a vastly different path (or even any different path). It doesn’t reform the tax code or overhaul Medicare. It doesn’t include infrastructure spending or chained-CPI. It doesn’t even replace all of sequestration.

This means that Social Security, and Medicare are safe for another day!  This is good news for millions of seniors and those who are close to retirement.

Now the bad news, the budget does not end the draconian sequester cuts.  It ‘eases’ the cuts.  The budget deal would add $40 billion dollars back into the budget ($25 Billion in the 2015 budget), with half going to military spending and the other half to domestic spending.

This year the GOP cut $4 billion from the SNAP or Food Stamps program.  Not to mention the $40 million from head start programs. The list goes on and on with more and more cuts and forced furloughs and layoffs to federal workers.   This budget will not fix that problem either, only force agencies to operate at a reduced budgetary level.

The irony here is that currently Sen Murray and Rep Ryan are haggling over $65 Billion dollars in the budget.  That is exactly how much we are adding from the current Sequester levels.  Is it a coincidence that, that is how much they are haggling about?

So where are the Republicans going to come up with the extra money to give back to the domestic spending programs?  You guessed it, their favorite secret stash, the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERs).

Rep. Paul Ryan is proposing a dramatic 2% increase on employee contributions to the FERs program, while federal employees have not seen a pay raise in almost 5 years. Federal workers who were hired in 2013 already got whacked with a 2.3% increased contribution over existing employees. Couple the lack of pay raises with the average inflation of around 2%, federal workers are losing money every year just staying in their jobs.  Now Rep Paul Ryan wants workers to take an additional 2% pay cut  — I mean increased retirement contribution — because he does not want to increase taxes on the wealthy or corporations?

The only working people that have paid a price so far in trying to bring down the deficit have been federal workers…. It is inappropriate to further look to the pockets of federal employees at this point in time,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.

When will the Congressional Republicans stop using the federal employees retirement accounts as their personal piggy banks.  When will they do what is right an start making the corporations pay their fair share?

 

The GOP In The US House Once Again Go After Federal Workers Pay (AGAIN)

Federal Workers Are The Backbone Of The Federal Government Yet The House GOP Pushes Them Further Down.

Amid all the “Fiscal Cliff” debates an Executive Order came out lifting the pay freeze that has been on federal workers for two years now.  This means that after two long years of no pay increases, federal workers are finally going to get a pay raise.  How much are they going to get, you ask? A whopping .5%!  Thats right less than one percent.

For easy numbers, lets say the average federal salary is $50,000.  This .5% pay raise would add $250 spread out over the entire year.  The drawback is that when the President raises the wages of federal workers, Congress also gets a pay raise.  With this pay raise Congress will get a $900 pay raise.

I will be the first to say that Congress does not deserve a pay raise due to their lack of action, however the workers are way overdue in their pay raises.

Once again the US House wasted precious time on the floor to debate and vote on a bill to stop this .5% pay raise to all federal workers.  The bill (which as I write this has yet to have text available to the public) is titled “To prevent the 2013 pay adjustment for Members of Congress and persons holding other offices or positions in the Federal Government from being made”.  See how your Rep voted.    This is a colosal waste time since the Senate will end up killing the bill.  The leadership in the House could have used the time to pass the Hurricane Sandy Relief bill which has been waiting for a House vote for 66 days now.

Here is my suggestion.  Senator Reid should take this bill from the house and amend it.  Change the wording to say that CONGRESS should not get any raise this year.  Then calculate the savings from removing the Congressional Representatives from the pay raise and give that to the workers instead.

Throughout yesterdays debate, every Representative said they would vote yes on a bill that would freeze Congressional Pay, yet no one has introduced that yet.

If the GOP in the House want to keep playing games with the budget,  fine take it out of their pockets.  The workers have not seen a raise in over two years and given back over $100 billion due to pay freezes.  The most ridiculous part is that the federal workers are being lumped in with Congress and their inability to get anything done.  Yet the House GOP member (Fitzpatrick) who proposed this legislation was quick to point out that he encourages raises for the Military, just not the people in the Department Of Defense.

“While I will continue to protect and preserve pay increases for the men and women in the United States military, we must reject this unnecessary and inappropriate raise for Congress, the Administration and the federal bureaucracy.”

Our federal workforce is made up of dedicated public servants who have been working harder and harder every year with no added compensation. They government is hiring less workers to replace outgoing employees and still the US House wants more.

Stop using the federal workers as fodder in you political battle.

US House Republicans Try To Force A Pay Cut To Federal Workers In Boehner’s “Plan B”

Once again House Republicans are after the Federal workers.  This time they want more from workers in the form of a 5% increase to the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).  This once again proves that the House Republicans are trying to use the Federal workers as their personal piggy bank.

From GovExec.com:
“House lawmakers passed legislation requiring spending cuts to accompany Speaker John Boehner’s Plan B tax proposal, including major changes to federal employee retirement plans, before Boehner pulled the Plan B bill from the floor Thursday evening for lack of GOP support.”

A 5% increase in pension costs added in with the proposed  three year pay freeze is a net loss in pay for millions of middle class families.

National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen M. Kelley also wrote to House members. “Make no mistake,” she said, “an increased contribution toward one’s pension, with no corresponding increase in benefits, is a pay cut.”

Thankfully the White House was ahead of the proposal.

“President Obama threatened to veto the measure, saying “the approach put forward in this bill, virtually identical to earlier legislation, eliminates the defense portion of the pending sequester and does so in a way that imposes far greater cuts in the non-defense part of the budget than the existing sequester would entail.”

The previous legislation that the President is referring to was passed in the House along party lines and has yet to be (most likely will never be) discussed in the Senate.

As it was previously reported Speaker Boehner never called for a vote on his ‘Plan B’.  Congresswomen-Elect Annie Kuster had this to say.

“After failing to pass even their lopsided ‘Plan B’ proposal, it’s now clear that House Republican leadership is not serious about coming together to pass a balanced plan to reduce the deficit and avert the fiscal cliff. Instead, with the threat of across-the-board spending cuts and tax increases looming, they have simply given up. This is not what responsible governing looks like. With the clock ticking, both parties need to come back to the table to pass a balanced, bipartisan solution that averts the fiscal cliff, reduces the deficit, asks the wealthiest to pay their fair share, protects seniors and the middle class, and strengthens the economy.”

Annie is right, it does not seem that the House Republicans have any interest in avoiding this fiscal cliff that they created all because they refuse to increase taxes on the ultra-wealthy.  Guess what House GOP, if you do nothing the taxes are going up anyway!

NALC President Speaks Out To Members and Congress About Pre-funding Obligations and Lame Duck Session

What follows is an email from NALC President Fred Rolando regarding the impending deal in Congress to eliminate a day of mail delivery each week. The sword is about to fall on many union jobs. At this point all we can do is call Senator Shaheen or Ayotte and ask them to preserve 6 day mail delivery.

“Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve asked you to call your representatives in Washington and tell them to wait until after the first of the year to work on meaningful postal reform, rather than try to push something through quickly during this lame-duck period after the November elections. And thousands of NALC activists made those calls. If you did so, thank you.

Unfortunately, we’ve learned that key members of the House and Senate have met together this week to work on a compromise postal reform bill, and it sounds as if eliminating a day of mail delivery service remains on the table during those discussions.

This is unacceptable. Cutting a day of delivery would mean sacrificing one-sixth of our workforce—25,000 city letter carrier jobs—all in the name of holding on to the misguided mandate to massively pre-fund 75 years’ worth of future retiree benefits and to do so within just 10 years. This policy is what’s really hurting the USPS, costing it billions a year and diverting its attention away from working on a true business plan for the 21st century. (It’s worth noting that this last postal reform law was passed during Congress’ lame-duck session in 2006.)

Besides, dropping a day of mail delivery is a sure-fire recipe for driving away business from the USPS by undermining the value of the service that we letter carriers faithfully provide.

NALC continues to oppose any congressional deal that eliminates a day of mail delivery and that fails to lay the foundation for a viable Postal Service. Click here to read the letter I just sent to every U.S. senator.

If there is a sliver of good news here, it’s this: It’s still not too late for you to act. Even if you have already called your representatives, please do so again—they can not hear from us enough on this important issue.

So please, call your House and Senate representatives at 202-224-3121 and tell them to oppose any lame-duck postal reform bill. Tell them that Congress should instead start over in the new year to craft a brand-new reform measure that preserves this institution, that allows it to grow and meet today’s challenges, and that takes into account the needs of all postal stakeholders and customers.

Also, encourage your fellow letter carriers, your family members and your friends to call their representatives, too.

And stay alert for future developments. If these members of Congress reach some sort of postal reform deal this week, I will schedule a tele-town hall meeting to mobilize the entire membership to fight it.”

In Solidarity,

Fredric V. Rolando, President
National Association of Letter Carriers

Below are two images. The first is the letter that President Rolando sent to the members of Congress, encouraging them to make new legislation in the next session and to do it correctly.  The second image show how their current proposed changes to the postal pre-funding will only net a savings of 5 billion over 10 years.  That will not be enough if they want to keep the post office functioning.

 

President Obama Takes The Wimpy Way Out With Another Pay Freeze On Government Workers

White House Photo by Pete Souza

J. David Cox the President of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) blasted President Obama  about the decision to extend the two-year pay freeze on all Government employees until Congress passes a new budget.

If Congress does not pass a new budget Federal workers would get a .5% raise in March of 2013.  This is just another kick in the pants to all federal workers.  So far the Federal workers have already given up “60 billion dollars” from the two-year pay freeze.

This means that Federal employees will not get a cost of living adjustment this year.  Without a cost of living adjustment workers will see their take home reduced because the cost of medical insurance and other out of pocket expenses continues to go up.  There are now talks on the Hill of increasing employee contributions to the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERs) to reduce the costs of the Federal Government. Some people are already seeing this.  As Pres. Cox explained all newly hired employees will be forced to “pay a higher percentage to their retirement with no gain in annuity”.

Listen here [audio http://icestream.dev-cms.com:8000/dc/fnr/inside_govt/INSIDE_GOVT_08-24-2012.mp3]

President Cox was not the only person to denounce this action.   William R. Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, said in a statement.
“We are surprised and deeply disappointed by the administration’s decision not to push for the modest federal pay adjustment that was called for in the president’s budget”.

I think this is a bad move for the President especially in an election year.  Workers pay has been frozen for the past two years and now you are asking them to vote for you and your answer to that is, ‘wait another six months and you might get a raise’.  This is gutless.  The President has been going around the country telling people we need to invest in American and spend money rebuilding our infrastructure.  He has also been saying that we should hire all the teachers, police, and firefighters back who were laid off by state budget cuts.

Well Mr President, put your money where your mouth is.  You want to show people you are serious about investing in America, then start with the workers in your own “company”.  Show the business world that you are a leader and that you value your employees and your employees deserve a raise.  How do you expect others to believe you if you do not practice what you preach.

Since the President cannot take his ‘pay freeze’ back he must use his power to push Congress to pass a budget for 2013 now and give the workers the pay raise they deserve in January, when they should be getting it.  Two years without a raise is hard enough, do not make it four.

 

We Must Stop The Attacks On Federal Workers and Their Retirements

By Matt Murray

For the Ferderal Employees there is good, bad, and even worse news.  Today Kellie Lunney reported some important information regarding the changes in the Federal Budget.

First some good news, the members of Congress quickly shot down attempt to enact yet another pay freeze on the Federal Workforce.  At a time when workers pay (after adjusting for inflation) is lower that it was in 1990.  Killing this pay freeze idea was a good move.  However our happiness was short lived.

New pay freeze proposals have emerged. Goldwein says federal workers are much better off if lawmakers can craft a big deficit reduction deal, as opposed to enacting incremental changes that repeatedly hack away at feds’ pay and benefits, keeping them in a chronic state of unrest.

We need for our legislators to start finding ways to balance the budget that does not include taking more from the already strained Federal Workers.  Pay freezes, debt ceiling cuts, and employment insurance the US Congress have taken $105 Billion dollars away from federal workers over a ten year span.

One way or another, we are going to enact some reforms to the [federal] retirement system,” says Marc Goldwein, senior policy director at the bipartisan, nonprofit Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. 

When ever the Government begins to talk about changes to the retirement systems people begin to worry.  Too many times have we seen the private sector and even more recently public sector employees loose their entire retirement with changes to legislation.  Some have seen their pension changed to a 401K while others lost everything.  Here are a couple of the changes that have already passed or are still being proposed.

Obama has recommended increasing the amount all feds contribute to their pensions as part of overall deficit reduction, as have several lawmakers; in February, Congress approved legislation requiring new employees hired after Dec. 31, 2012, and returning feds with less than five years of service to contribute more to their defined benefit plans. And in May, the House passed a bill requiring current feds to pay more toward their pensions.

Other proposals floating around in the name of reducing spending include a high-five average salary calculation for annuities for new hires rather than the current high-three average pay calculation and the elimination of the Federal Employees Retirement System minimum supplement for individuals not subject to mandatory retirement starting in 2013. One bright spot for employees: Initial efforts to extend the federal pay freeze were shot down in Congress. 

The part that seems to be lost on many people is that if you mandate that people pay more for their retirement benefits without giving them a pay raise you are essentially cutting their pay.  For many people in the Federal Government the security of a Federal Retirement is one of the largest benefits to taking the job.  Many of the people who work for the government could make more in the private sector but would loose their retirement and loose their job security.

We need to ensure that our elected officials are working to protect the professionals who work for the Federal Government when trying to balance the budget on the backs of the workforce.

Payroll tax extension heads to president’s desk | NALC Activist Alert

More bad news for Federal Employees and members of the FERs Retirement system.

Payroll tax extension heads to president’s desk
By, NALC Activist Alert

Legislation to renew a payroll tax holiday and extension of unemployment benefits passed both the Senate and House on Friday, and is now on its way to President Obama’s desk, where he’s expected to sign it. While the NALC strongly supported the extension of the payroll tax holiday and unemployment insurance benefits, the union did not support the overall package because of a provision that singles out future federal and postal employees.
Despite the NALC’s best efforts, the overall deal includes a provision to “pay for” the unemployment insurance extension with an increase in pension contributions by federal and postal employees hired after 2012. NALC President Fredric V. Rolando weighed in with Congress that this will cost the average new postal employee nearly $1,000 per year and is simply “a tax hike or a pay cut by another name.”
The AFL-CIO issued a statement of “no support,” and while a few members of Congress noted that federal workers cannot continue to be singled out and treated unfairly by Congress, in the end it was not enough and the deal passed through both chambers of Congress with bipartisan support.
While Congress needed to take action to strengthen the economy and give millions of jobless Americans much needed benefits, it should have been done through shared sacrifice, not on the backs of future generations of postal and federal workers. This is only the beginning of what is expected to be a series of hits to current and future postal and federal employees to offset the cost of unrelated legislation. NALC needs to be diligent in standing up to Congress, opposing any such provisions moving forward.
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