Federal workers to rally again on Capitol Hill

One of the nation’s largest federal-employee groups plans to rally on Capitol Hill Tuesday against cuts affecting the federal workforce, marking the third time in as many months that such a gathering has taken place.

Members of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees association are scheduled to meet in the Capitol building for a series of speeches from labor leaders and a bipartisan pair of lawmakers to kick off the organization’s March 12 Advocacy Day.

Speakers at the Monday rally will include congressmen Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Jim Moran (D-Va.), as well as the presidents of five federal-worker groups, including the National Treasury Employees Union, NARFE and the American Postal Workers Union.

(Mark Gail/Washington Post)
(Mark Gail/Washington Post)

The American Federation of Government Employees organized a similar rally on Feb. 11, as did the National Treasury Employees Union on Feb. 26, an event that took place just three days before the government-wide spending cuts known as the sequester took effect.

All three gatherings have had a similar theme: Urging members of Congress to shield federal workers and government services from budget reductions.

The sequester requires $85 billion in cuts before the end of the fiscal year. Many agencies have said they will resort to furloughs to help meet their cost-saving targets, and some have already issued the mandatory 30-day notice for unpaid leave.

The reductions kicked in on March 1, after Congress failed to reach an alternative deficit-reduction deal in time for the deadline.

NARFE president Joseph A. Beaudoin last week blamed the sequester on an “unending game of political gamesmanship,” saying in a statement: “We hope an agreement is reached before federal employees in every congressional district are furloughed, resulting in a slash to middle-class household incomes and our national protection.”

Labor groups claim federal workers have already sacrificed $103 billion toward deficit reduction through reduced retirement benefits for future hires and a freeze in salary rates that has lasted more than two years.

A spending bill the House passed on Wednesday would freeze federal salary rates through September, negating an order from the president to raise the rates by 0.5 percent.

Beaudoin opposed the measure before the vote last week, saying in a statement that “there are other ways to reduce the deficit that do not punish middle-class federal families.”

NARFE has encouraged members who can’t attend the Monday rally to “amplify NARFE’s voice” by calling their local members of Congress. The group has provided step-by-step instructions for talking to lawmakers about protecting the federal workforce from cuts.

 

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Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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Josh Hicks · March 8, 2013