URGENT: Need immediate and continuing calls against bill to extend federal employee pay freeze through December 31, 2013.

URGENT: Need immediate and continuing calls against bill to extend federal employee pay freeze through December 31, 2013.

Republicans will bring to the House floor, perhaps as early as Tuesday, January 22rd, a bill introduced by Representative Ron DeSantis (R-FL), H.R. 273, which would extend the current two-and-a-quarter year pay freeze for federal employees until the end of 2013 — making it a full three years since federal employees have seen a raise. It is a continuation of the outrageous and punitive attacks against federal employees since 2011. A lopsided loss in the House next week could make the pay freeze permanent.

AFGE strongly opposes H.R. 273 and asks all Representatives to vote against it. Talking Points are below. An email alert to all AFGE members will be going out soon and will have a phone script and toll-free numbers attached.

We can’t take any House lawmakers for granted. Many Democratic Representatives were wrong on a January 1 pay vote, but, in most cases, that was because the Republican leadership framed the vote as one on a Congressional pay raise. However, that should be more difficult this time around. Similarly, freshman Democrats should receive special attention. This will be their first vote on this matter, and we want them to start building good records right from the start. Finally, some rank-and-file House Republicans seem more willing to consider our interests this time, so let’s not automatically assume GOP lawmakers will be wrong. Thanks for your consideration. If you have questions about federal employee pay, please contact motenb@afge.org. If you have questions about contractor compensation, please contact threlj@afge.org.

Talking Points

It is crucial that one fact be understood—the vote on H.R. 273 will NOT be about a pay raise for Members of Congress. As House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrel Issa (R-CA) acknowledges in his press release in support of H.R. 273:

“The President’s executive order would have also facilitated a pay increase for Members of Congress. The House and Senate, however, voted down the congressional pay increase earlier this year.”

In other words, the vote on H.R. 273 is not about whether Congressional lawmakers, who earn $174,000 annually should receive a pay raise. This vote is about whether the working and middle class Americans who take care of our veterans, who guard our borders, who maintain our military’s hardware, and who keep our environment and our workplaces safe and healthy should receive a belated and modest 0.5% pay increase after a freeze of more than two years.

Federal employees have sacrificed enormously over the past two years. Since 2011, budget savings from reduced compensation to the federal workforce has totaled at least $103 billion over ten years. That’s an average of $50,000 per employee.
The $103 billion comes from:
• The 2-year pay freeze and next year’s raise of 0.5% which totals $88 billion in budget savings, and
• The 2.3% increase in employees’ retirement contributions for post-2012 hires which was done to pay for 50% of the Unemployment Insurance extension in February. The 2.3% increase is basically a tax increase on middle class workers and it saves $15 billion.
The total of those two items is $103 billion.
For lower and middle-grade employees, like the ones AFGE represents, eliminating the extremely modest 0.5% pay raise through the end of December will be extremely harsh.

* A GS-3 nursing assistant earning $27,322 while working in a VA hospital psychiatric ward will not have had a pay raise for three years.

* A GS-5 USDA meat and poultry inspector earning $31,825 while protecting Americans from E. Coli and other deadly diseases caused by contaminated meat will not have had a pay raise for three years.

* A GS-7 federal penitentiary correctional officer earning $38,790 while guarding ruthless gang leaders in dangerously understaffed institutions will alaso not have had a pay raise for three years.

H.R. 273 isn’t about reining in spending, and it isn’t about fixing the deficit. This is simply a way for the right wing to play politics with federal employees who didn’t create the financial mess but are the only people being asked to pay for it.

Enough is enough. It’s time for Congress to reduce federal spending by finally requiring service contractors to make sacrifices.

Defense contractors can charge taxpayers annually up to $763,029 for the compensation of a single employee. However, in non-DoD agencies, only the five most highly compensated executives at each contractor are held to this cap. Other contractor employees can be – and are – frequently reimbursed by taxpayers for more than $763,000. Since 1998, the compensation cap on government contracts has more than doubled. Over the past dozen years, the increase in allowable government compensation to contractors has outpaced inflation by 53%. In 2012, contractors received a 10% raise. Under the generous formula set in statute, which is based on exorbitant compensation for private sector business executives, contractors will likely receive a comparable raise in 2013.

One modestly paid federal workforce of nurses, food inspectors, and correctional officers is scheduled to receive a mere 0.5% pay increase after a two-year freeze. Another federal workforce where many employees routinely make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year received a 10% raise last year and will likely receive a comparable raise again next year. Both workforces are paid for by American taxpayers. What’s the difference? Some House Republicans want to eliminate the 0.5% pay increase for the workforce made up of working and middle class federal employees, but do nothing about the double-digit raises being given to an exclusive group of employees in America’s top 1% of income. Shameful.

The loyal, patriotic Americans who make up the federal workforce have already done their part to address the budget deficit. I strongly urge you to oppose H.R. 273.

Do not send or forward this to government email addresses.

Author: AFGE Local 704

Representing over 900 bargaining unit employees working at the U.S. EPA Region 5 Offices in Chicago, Ann Arbor, MI and Westlake, OH.

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