For federal workers stretched thin, pay freeze would be beyond cold

By Joe Davidson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 9, 2010; 7:54 PM

As President Obama and members of Congress move to freeze the pay of federal employees, they should keep people such as Sharon Faison in mind.

She goes to work after she leaves work, from one Sam to another.

Five nights a week, the Social Security disability examiner toils for Sam's Club after her day with Uncle Sam is done.

With two girls and separated, her living expenses are high. She recently needed a $500 loan from the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund to pay rent.

"I'm very, very tired," she said. "I am so ready to stop. I hope I get a promotion. . . . It's hard to maintain two daughters and two jobs. It's very, very hard."

Despite all of the talk about overpaid federal employees, much of it misleading, there are those for whom government work is not enough. They need two jobs.

It doesn't help when they hear Obama pushing the two-year federal pay freeze that the House approved Wednesday. "Lord knows, I need a pay increase," said another two-jobber, Cookie Punch, a 54-year-old Defense Department worker. The Senate will vote on the freeze soon.

But Punch doesn't blame the current boss in chief.

"[George W.] Bush messed it up way before Obama stepped into office," she said. "He's trying to put things back together again."

Leaders of federal employee organizations aren't so charitable.

Susan Johnson, president of the American Foreign Service Association, doesn't understand why Foreign Service officers posted unarmed in dangerous places - often alongside members of the military - will have their pay frozen when military pay is exempted.

Officials at the Office of Management and Budget had no explanation for including war zone Foreign Service officers in the freeze.

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