The Washington Post

Labor unions join to fight cuts to federal workforce


A coalition of 22 labor organizations is pledging to fight “irresponsible cuts” to the federal workforce if proposed by the supercommittee on deficit reduction.

The Federal Workers Alliance says it represents more than 300,000 federal employees who, along with the rest of the workforce, face “a very uncertain future,” because of the supercommittee’s mandate.

The committee, officially the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, held its first public meeting Tuesday. It is charged with cutting at least $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit over the next decade. That would be on top of $1 trillion that Congress and President Obama agreed to earlier.

Although reducing the deficit could come from increasing revenue in addition to slashing budgets, the alliance worries that budget cuts will unfairly fall on federal workers.

“Federal workers provide invaluable services to the American people every day, and they do it at a tremendous value to the American taxpayer,” said FWA Chairman William R. Dougan. “They are the dedicated men and women that care for our veterans, inspect our food, maintain our military readiness and defend our borders. Slashing billions more will cripple these vital services and do far more damage than good.

“Federal workers have already sacrificed with a two-year pay freeze and drastically reduced agency budgets,” Dougan said. “Piling on billions more in cuts will lower morale, stifle federal services and present a logistical nightmare for federal agencies. It is essential that committee members understand that.”

In a related effort, Federally Employed Women (FEW), an organization not included in the list of alliance members, warns that cuts to the federal workforce would seriously hurt rural areas. Citing a recent PBS report, FEW said that “with 85 percent of the 2 million federal jobs outside of the city [Washington], these cuts will have an enormous adverse impact on the counties in more rural areas. Furthermore, the federal jobs that are lost outside the beltway in these more remote areas will not easily be replaced as those in more urban and/or cities.”

Follow the Federal Diary on Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.


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