Aug. 13, 2010
President Gage Defends Federal Employees' Pay on CNBC: AFGE President John Gage this week appeared on CNBC's Closing Bell to defend federal employees' compensation following renewed attacks on federal pay and claims that federal employees are overpaid compared with their private sector counterparts. President Gage said the USA Today pay comparison article being discussed did not compare the pay and compensation between similar "positions" in the private sector and the federal government. He said comparing the pay average of the two sectors is worse than comparing apples and oranges because on average federal jobs require more education and skills than many of the positions in the private sector. President Gage also shot back at the CATO Institute analyst, who claimed that federal employees are a privileged class with the average pay in the top five of all industries and are eight times less likely to quit their jobs. "That's all political spin," Gage said, adding that federal employees are dedicated workers who proudly serve their country in various capacities. Federal employees, just like everybody else, also have to shoulder the cost of health insurance that goes up 15-20 percent a year.
To listen to the interview, click here
AFGE Launches Radio Campaign Challenging Attacks on Feds: AFGE - the country's largest federal employees union - launched a nationwide radio ad campaign on Aug. 9 to remind listeners of how many areas of their lives are served by government employees. The 60 second radio spot features AFGE President John Gage, along with several AFGE members who work in the Bureau of Prisons, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Defense Department, and the Social Security Administration. Over the past 18 months there has been a real push by some politicians and media talking heads to demonize federal employees.
"Whenever there is a fiscal crunch, there are always those who hastily call for a reduction of federal employees," President Gage said. "We want people to know what those irresponsible ploys really mean. Personnel cuts mean fewer guards at our federal prisons. Personnel cuts mean reduced services for our veterans. Personnel cuts mean reductions in social security for our seniors. Personnel cuts would hinder support for our military men and women. The men and women of the federal service are not nameless, faceless bureaucrats. They are what hold our nation together."
To listen to the radio ad, click here AFGE represents more than 600,000 workers in 75 different federal and DC government agencies.
AFGE to Request Full Briefing from DoD on Derailed Insourcing Plan: AFGE is requesting a full briefing from the Defense Department after Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced earlier this week that the department would eliminate three Defense agencies, freeze hiring for most jobs, cut funding for service support contractors and not replace them with federal employees. The three organizations proposed to be eliminated are the Business Transformation Agency, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration, and Joint Forces Command, which employs about 2,800 military and civilian employees and roughly 3,000 contractors. In an attempt to save money and reduce excessive reliance on expensive service contractors, Gates last year said he wanted to cut the number of service support contractors by 33,000 in the next five years and replace them with federal employees. But now the defense secretary said these contractor positions will be cut but may not be replaced by civilians.
"The department's budget is in critical condition because of decades of excessive privatization," said AFGE Legislative Director Beth Moten. "But DoD should not give up the opportunities to achieve savings through insourcing, which has been implemented for only one year." Moten said because DoD has not yet implemented the contractor inventory and then integrated those results into the budget process, as required by law, the department lacks the capacity to determine costs and savings from insourcing. The department is also unable to distinguish the savings from insourcing from the costs of increased contracting because the savings from insourcing are more than offset by new service support contracts. As of today, DoD still does not have an accounting system in place to distinguish the savings and expenses.
VA Collective Bargaining Bill Clears First Hurdle: The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee last week approved a bill that would clarify the right of VA health care professionals to grieve and negotiate over some compensation disputes. Under current law, VA health care professionals do not have the same rights as their counterparts in the Defense Department or Bureau of Prisons to use their bargaining rights to enforce pay laws and regulations. The current law prohibits VA doctors, dentists, registered nurses, physicians' assistants, chiropractors, optometrists, podiatrists, and dental auxiliaries from exercising their bargaining rights when management withholds overtime, weekend premium pay, wage survey data or does not properly implement performance pay. The measure, proposed by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, would allow unions representing Title 38 VA employees to negotiate over some compensation matters, similar to the bargaining rights of Title 5 VA and DoD clinicians. Contrary to some claims put forth by the agency, the amendment does not give employees the right to bargain over basic rates of pay, which are set by Congress. The bill would also level the playing field for Title 38 employees and those with Title 5 bargaining rights in the same agency. Without passage of this legislation, VA employees working side by side lack equal rights. For example, registered nurses cannot enforce their rights to overtime pay while licensed practical nurses have that right. VA psychiatrists have no recourse when pay rules are violated, yet VA psychologists working in the same mental health settings have the ability to exercise their bargaining rights under Title 5.
Bill Introduced to Cut 200,000 Federal Jobs: AFGE is fighting a bill introduced last week by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to cut 200,000 federal jobs so that the number of federal employees goes back to the February 2009 levels. Hatch said currently there are 1.43 million federal workers, compared with 1.2 million in 2008. The Reduce and Cap the Federal Workforce Act would require the head of each agency - except the CIA, FBI, Secret Service, and Executive Office of President - to report the number of civilian employees within that agency on Feb 16, 2009, to the Office of Management and Budget. If the current number of employees is greater, then each agency - except the Defense Department and Homeland Security - must reduce the number of employees to 2009 levels through attrition.
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Inside Government: Tune in now to AFGE's radio show Inside Government to hear from The Huffington Post's Co-Founder Arianna Huffington and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz,D-Fla. The show, which originally aired on Friday, Aug. 6, is now available on demand. Huffington addressed a number of issues, including the upcoming 2010 midterm elections, the BP oil spill, and how to create more jobs in America. Rep. Wasserman Schultz discussed steps Congress has taken to improve the economy and the need to secure collective bargaining rights for Transportation Security Officers. Also a guest on the show was Project on Government Oversight (POGO) Executive Director Danielle Brian, who previewed POGO's upcoming report on privatization in government. The report, which is expected to detail the true cost of contracting out federal government work, is due to be released later this summer. Brian also discussed POGO's efforts to promote good government, which includes whistleblower protections and a more transparent and open government.
Listen LIVE on Fridays at 10 a.m. on 1500 AM WFED in the D.C. area or online at www.federalnewsradio.com. For more information, please visit www.insidegovernmentradio.com.