National President Tony Reardon weighs in
[On March 27, 2019] NTEU submitted testimony for the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG), which has jurisdiction over agencies impacting the federal workforce such as the Office of Personnel Management as well as a number of NTEU-represented agencies. The Subcommittee hosted the hearing to provide the public with an opportunity to weigh in on issues within its jurisdiction and the President’s FY 2020 Budget Request, which once again includes cuts to most federal agencies and employee benefits.
NTEU strongly opposes the Administration’s plans to freeze federal employee pay, slow the rate of within grade step increases, and limit performance awards to select occupations, which would ignore critical jobs needed to make agencies work, risking an increase in the number of career federal employees who leave the government and take their institutional knowledge with them. Under current law, federal employees should see a 2.6% across-the-board pay increase for 2020 before locality pay is added in. Given the multi-year pay freezes and below market pay increases, NTEU supports the FAIR Act, S. 426 and H.R. 1073, which would provide employees with a 3.6% pay raise.
The testimony also expressed NTEU’s opposition to cuts to employee benefits, requiring employees to pay more for their retirement and health care while receiving less. In the same vein, it expressed NTEU’s concern with the proposal to move the OPM health care and retirement offices to the General Services Administration. I also expressed our opposition to cuts to employee leave and instead voiced support for the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, H.R. 1534, which would provide 12 weeks of paid Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave to care for a new child or a critically ill family member.
Given that some Members of Congress attempt to offer policy riders (non-funding provisions to the appropriations measure) or as spending limitation provisions in the Committee Report on the FSGG bill, I also expressed NTEU’s opposition to the Administration’s call for changes to collective bargaining and due process rights as well as support for the continuation of the bar on funding new A-76 competitions to outsource federal jobs to the private sector.
With regards to specific agency funding, NTEU requested additional funding for the IRS, which has absorbed almost $845 million in cuts since FY 2010, resulting in the loss of more than 22,000 full-time employees. The lack of sufficient staffing has strained the IRS’s ability to serve taxpayers and enforce the nation’s tax laws. In addition, NTEU requested additional funding for the SEC, which is fee funded and therefore deficit neutral, to ensure that employees there receive adequate pay increases that can help the SEC compete with Wall Street firms for talented employees.
NTEU will continue to work with allies in Congress to fight for sufficient agency funding and against cuts to employee pay, rights, and benefits.
Contact your Representatives and Senators about the 2020 Budget
NTEU.org’s Legislative Action Center has a pre-written email ready to be sent to your Congresspeople about this very budget. Take a few moments to urge them to increase IRS funding and to protect federal employees. As always, make sure to do it after work hours and using your personal computer and email address.