The Gramm-Rudman-Hollings act has already cost federal retirees the 3.1 percent raise they were due this year, and when agency belt-tightening gets under way it could cost some workers their jobs.
In today's Monday Morning Quarterback, three contributors discuss the declining fortunes of current and former feds and offer suggestions on ways to fight back.
*"People who complain about the government as an employer fail to recognize that the federal government is inherently an unfair employer.
"This is the nature of politics. Like it or not, the civil service is a political institution and politics produces a constant succession of winners and losers. That is what this town is all about.
"Thus, the solemn promises of one administration are gleefully reneged upon by a successor. Congress gives and takes as political fortunes change. Those who remember President Kennedy extolling the public service lived to witness Carter's righteous punishment of civil servants for sins -- real and imagined -- of government and the Reagan administration's demeaning of public service in contrast with the quest for private gain.
"The problem isn't the political process which governs the fate of civil servants (the same fate governs everyone else too). Rather it is how civil servants . . . fail to participate in the political process.
"As long as feds imagine themselves to be apolitical . . . and remain passive they will consistently be among the losers.
"The law rightly restrains public servants from political involvement and strikes. But I know of few civil servants who bother to write their elected representatives, let alone support organizations that speak on their behalf.
"Surely there is an effective course of collective action that avoids the extremum of present apathy and the self-destructive activism of the old air traffic controllers union.
"If the worst-case cuts posed by the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings act come to pass, perhaps it will mobilize the surviving civil servants to begin to act on their own behalf." T.W.C., Alexandria
*"Most of our 350 members (Rehoboth Beach, Del., chapter of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees) are ex-Washingtonians and keep a close watch on what happens in 'Brasilia North.' Retirees were the first to be hit by Gramm-Rudman-Hollings act.
" . . . Our advice isn't to be ignored, as our membership has 10,500 years of government service.
"Remind private sector critics that the D.C. area owes its livelihood to the business of government." Thomas J. Seery, chapter president
*"I'm shocked by the apathy and lack of knowledge of most federal retirees as to what is happening to them.
"The raise they lost isn't for one year but for a lifetime. If Gramm-Rudman-Hollings lasts through 1991 and inflation increases, our purchasing power could be reduced 50 percent.
"Since 1975, feds have lost $8 billion to $9 billion and it didn't start with Ronald Reagan. The law that took new federal workers out of the civil service retirement system and put them under Social Security was bipartisan. Indeed, the Democratic House pushed its effects up one year. Retirees should wake up before it's too late." Bob R., Washington, D.C.