Unions representing federal workers have been nothing if not vocal in their conviction that if automatic spending cuts take effect during the battle in Congress over reducing the deficit, contractors should be sacrificed before civil servants.

The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal union, drew another line in the sand Tuesday in response to a White House memo to agencies to intensify their planning for sequestration, as the $85 billion in budget cuts that could take effect March 1 are called.

The guidance from acting Budget Director Jeffrey Zients “imposes disproportionate sacrifice on federal employees,” AFGE President J. David Cox, Sr. said in a press release. He noted that agencies were instructed to plan for furloughs, hiring freezes, layoffs of temporary employees and buyout incentives — all measures that affect federal workers, not contractors.

“Contractors are more costly and numerous than federal employees, yet they are merely subjected to the possibility of cuts,” Cox wrote. “Meanwhile [the Office of Management and Budget] suggests to agencies a whole panoply of actual cuts to the federal workforce.”

He said the White House should do more to urge agencies to freeze contracts and review them for termination, moves that would hit the private workforce.

Well, it seems both groups would take a hit under sequestration. The Defense Department  instructed managers last week to consider some pretty big cuts to contracting. And Zients told civilian agencies virtually the same thing, urging them to “review grants and contracts to determine where cost savings may be achieved…”