Federal workers groups pledge to fight potential supercommittee cuts


Wesley Hayes attended a rally in Woodlawn, Md., in July, saying he’s among federal workers who feel they are potential targets in the ongoing deficit reduction debate. (Gene Sweeney Jr./BALTIMORE SUN)

The Federal Workers Alliance says it represents more than 300,000 workers who, along with the entire workforce, face “a very uncertain future” because of the supercommittee mandate to cut the deficit by $1.5 trillion. That sum is on top of nearly $1 trillion in the deficit cuts Congress and President Obama agreed to earlier.

The alliance released a legislative white paper, titled “Concerns Regarding Anti-Federal Employee Proposals,” on Wednesday, the day after the committee held its first public meeting.

This is another wave of actions by federal employee organizations designed to limit any negative impact on the workforce by the committee, which is officially called the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.

As we reported last week, a few organizations contacted the panel before it met, with the same message now pushed by FWA Chairman William R. Dougan:

“Federal workers are not going to sit on the sidelines while their jobs and retirement security are up for grabs. There is simply too much at stake. We are asking committee members to stand with our nation’s federal employees and make certain they don’t lose the resources they need to keep our promises to the American people.

“The employee organizations see the danger ahead and they clearly are well organized and pro-active. But it will be a very tough fight in a bout where the basic outlines of the results are pre-ordained.

“The deficit will be cut by trillions of dollars. There is no doubt that much of that, perhaps most, will be in the form of budget cuts. Budget cuts mean agencies have less money to spend on programs, services and employees.

“If there is a likely scenario that would save workers from being hit, it’s not clear now.

“So, perhaps the best employees can hope for is to lessen the impact of budget cuts.

“Given the current political climate, that would be no small victory. And it would be a victory not just for the union members, but for all federal workers and for the public in general.

“Federal workers provide invaluable services to the American people every day, and they do it at a tremendous value to the American taxpayer. They are the dedicated men and women that care for our veterans, inspect our food, maintain our military readiness, and defend our borders. Slashing billions more will cripple these vital services and do far more damage than good. Federal workers have already sacrificed with a two-year pay freeze and drastically reduced agency budgets. Piling on billions more in cuts will lower morale, stifle federal services, and present a logistical nightmare for federal agencies. It is essential that committee members understand that.”

Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

E-mail Joe: federaldiary@washpost.com

For more news, visit PostPolitics and The Fed Page.

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.
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