Federal workers tell Congress ‘Enough Is Enough”

In Columns by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

With the passage of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 all federal employees were granted the right to organize and bargain for binding labor contracts. Representation was subsequently provided by the American Federation of Government Employees; and, on Nov.15th they notified all members of Congress who are seeking a “grand bargain” on deficit reduction, not to “look to us for more savings.”

The rational provided: “Our members (some 670,000 in total) have already suffered cuts worth more than $100 billion over ten years, all of which were made to reduce deficits.” These cuts take into consideration “$60 billion from a two-year pay freeze, $28 billion from a reduced raise for 2013 and $15 billion from reduced retirement benefits. Enough is enough.”

That’s one convoluted statement. I can’t even begin to imagine how the “cuts” itemized were applicable to past deficits, no less how forestalled raises or altered pension reductions apply to current deficits.

Let’s dig a little deeper. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a report for the year ending 2011 showing “public-sector workers had a union membership rate of 37 percent, more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers.” Within the public sector, local government workers i.e., teachers, police officers, and firefighters, had the highest union membership rate at 43.2 percent. An additional concern, for all federal, state and local government workers represented by unions out earned non-union workers by $8,632 (1) a year with wages and benefits protected by law. New York continued to have the highest union membership rate among all states, at 24 percent.

Enough is enough, is not enough!  Organizations representing federal and state employees can no longer be impervious to a “grand” or less than grand, bargain. Nor can we, as receivers of services or perks that cannot be rationalized. As a nation and state we are dealing with unsustainable deficits that are a recipe for disaster.

To quote David M. Walker, former United States comptroller general, “A serious discussion is needed about our fiscal future casting entitlements aside and telling the truth, the whole truth to the American people.” This is not likely to happen with all the vested interest groups optioning for the status quo or better.

I sense a chill in the air said the Helms-man to the Captain of the Titanic.

(1) Median weekly earning (x 52) of full-time wage and salary workers by union and non-union affiliation


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