Federal unions: Sacrifices for deficit reduction took toll in ‘Best Places’ survey

December 14, 2012

The largest public employee unions representing federal workers have concluded that it’s no wonder morale is at a low ebb for employees at many agencies: Feds have already made significant sacrifices in the partisan fight to reduce the deficit.

Weighing in on the 2012 “Best Places to Work” rankings released Thursday by the Partnership for Public Service, the American Federation of Government Employees blames a steady decline in job satisfaction on budget battles that have targeted them.

“This survey shows what happens when you make federal workers the singular target of deficit reduction schemes,” AFGE President J. David Cox, a former nurse for the Veterans Affairs Department, said in a statement. “Federal employees have had their salaries frozen since January 2010, while employees who join the government next year will have to pay almost four times more for their retirement than current employees. Meanwhile, agencies have been forced to freeze hiring, downsize staff, curtail operating hours and take other draconian steps to deal with massive budget cutbacks. The AFGE is the largest federal public employee union, representing 670,000 civil servants.

President Colleen Kelley of the National Treasury Employees Union sounded a similar note, calling the drop in overall employee satisfaction across government to 60.8 percent this year –the lowest level since 2003—the result of a lingering pay freeze and “continuing attacks on the federal workforce.”

“Today our country has the best civil service in the world, but if this disturbing trend continues that will not be true tomorrow,” Kelley, a former Internal Revenue Service employee, said in a statement. “To remain competitive, respect for federal employees and their contributions should be at the top of the agenda for policymakers.” 

AFGE and NTEU are part of a coalition of labor unions and their supporters who are pressing lawmakers and the Obama administration to keep federal employee pay and benefits out of any deal to avert a “fiscal cliff” of automatic tax increases and spending cuts in January.

 

Lisa Rein covers the federal workforce and issues that concern the management of government.
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