Where you stand often depends on where you live. Take federal job cuts, for instance.
Since RIFs came into our lives, about 2,300 of the area's 347,000 feds have lost their jobs. The media here have done countless stories on the RIF experience, and the disruptive effect it has had on the area. Locally, the press has generally been very sympathetic to the fired workers.
RIFs are news--bad news here--because this is a government town. Those of us who do not work directly for Uncle Sam have friends, relatives, neighbors who do. We work for businesses that depend on the federal payroll. It is natural that we see RIFs as bad things. But Washington is not your typical American town.
Out there, beyond the beltway, folks see the government, and government workers, in a different light.
When we cheer for a federal pay raise, they boo. When we moan about 2,300 people being laid off, they say we don't know what a layoff is.
Many federal workers here think they don't get a fair shake from the local media. If they think they get bad press here, they ought to read some out-of-town newspapers, or watch the 6 p.m. news in Detroit, or Great Falls, or Tucson. Example:
On May 7 the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle, ran an editorial about RIFs. It is a lot different from RIF editorials people in Washington usually read. It goes like this:
"The fear of RIFfing is terrifying Georgia's relatively large population of federal employes . . . For taxpayers, however, it means the fear of something is finally being instilled in Uncle Sam's minions.
"They have long been a coddled lot with very little to fear. They are immune to the trepidations which keep employes in the private sector coming to work on time and doing a reasonably competent job. For in the private sector if workers aren't wary, they may not get a raise. They may not get promoted. They may, indeed, get canned.
"Georgia's federal workforce, then, gripped as it is by the fear of RIFfing, might elicit huge crocodile tears but not much else from private workers already laid off by the recession in this area.
"Says one official of the Office of Personnel Management: 'For every one worker who actually loses a job, 10 or 15 are going crazy for weeks thinking their jobs will be affected.' Few taxpayers' teardrops will be splashing on the floor, though. Applause, not sobbing, is more apt.
"RIF, of course, is being used with only limited success to reduce the federal budget via the federal payroll. Still, a federal employe who is RIFfed has not necessarily lost his job. He may only be reduced in grade, or he may be transferred to another department. As such, it seems rather paltry a fright compared with the out-and-out layoffs which private sector employes face.
"Hoping to pin down the number of federal employes in Georgia and in Richmond County, we called the U.S. Labor Department branches here and in Atlanta. In neither case was anybody available to answer the phone, giving rise to speculation that everybody's already been RIFfed--or that everyone is loafing. Take your choice.
"If a fear of RIF-deciminated departments is afoot, maybe U.S. employes will work harder to make those departments--or their own soft nooks, at any rate--seem worthy of a taxpayer's buck. We doubt they will; they will concentrate instead on making the budget cuts sound inhumane. Therefore we refuse to join the caterwauling which, these days, is the characteristic noise of the federal bureaucracy."
Just thought you would like to know what they are saying--and reading--about you out there!