Budget Conference Deal Summary/Talking Points

Budget Conference Deal Summary/Talking Points

Summary of Elements Impacting Feds:

1. Post-12/31/13 hires will pay an additional 1.3% toward their pensions, for total of 4.4%

2. FEHB will add a ‘self plus one’ option, which inevitably increases family plan premiums

3. Contractor salary reimbursement cap dropped to $487,000

4. The total deal is $85 billion. About $45 billion of that replaces sequestration cuts in 2014. About $20 billion replaces sequestration cuts in 2015. (Washington Post)

AFGE Talking Points:

  • Despite the extraordinarily hard work of several Congressional leaders, AFGE cannot support any budget deal that asks for more from federal employees.
  • AFGE represents more than just the 670,000 federal and D.C government employees on the rolls today, but every other federal worker who will one day take the oath and be forced to live with this needless pension cut.
  • We reject the notion that there should be a trade-off between funding the programs to which federal employees have devoted their lives, and their own livelihoods. Why should VA nurses be the only ones who have to make sacrifices so that veterans get the care they need? Why should DoD civilians, many of whom are veterans themselves, have to sacrifice their retirement benefits for military readiness?
  • Though the $6 billion in increased retirement contributions for new employees is less severe than the administration’s $20 billion proposal, it is still unacceptable.
  • Newly hired federal employees already pay 3.1% of their salaries toward their defined benefit pension and 6.2% to Social Security. Forcing employees hired after 2013 to pay an additional 1.3% — for a total of 4.4% — toward their pension will make it all but impossible for them to fund their Thrift Savings Plan accounts. The result will be a serious shortfall in their retirement income security, and a substantial lowering of their standard of living.
  • We also are concerned with the impact of the new self plus one category in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which will raise costs for families with more than two persons.
  • None of this would be occurring were it not for the perverted logic of austerity politics. The Budget Control Act was a grave mistake, and the spending cuts it imposes year after year have been ruinous for our economy and for the services on which all Americans depend. Spending cuts hurt the poor and the vulnerable, and they also hurt military readiness, medical research, enforcement of clean air and water rules, access to housing and education, transportation systems and infrastructure, and homeland security.
  • Congress should focus its efforts on repealing the Budget Control Act, not pitting federal workers against the very programs to which they have committed their lives.
  • While we have not yet seen the language limiting the compensation taxpayers must pay for individual contractor employees to $487,000, AFGE will work to lower the overall amount, which is still too high, and also will work to ensure that there are no unnecessary loopholes or exceptions.
  • Although limiting contractor compensation technically doesn’t ‘score’ for budget purposes, GAO estimates that it will save almost $500 million annually, just in DoD. Agencies will be better off by being able to rid themselves of ridiculously high compensation for contractor employees.
  • “AFGE’s members are extremely grateful for the heroic work of House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen of Maryland for their extraordinary efforts to protect current federal employees.
  • AFGE also is grateful to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts, Frank Wolf of Virginia, Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Nita Lowey of New York for their leadership in pushing for a deal that would not unfairly punish federal workers.
  • Finally, Senators Patty Murray of Washington, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Harry Reid of Nevada all worked hard to ensure that the budget deal was fair for federal workers.
  • As hard as they fought, they were still forced to fight within a ridiculous box created by the Budget Control Act, they were boxed in by austerity economics, austerity budgeting.
  • There are 300 million Americans, and far too much of the burden of the ridiculousness of the Budget Control Act falls upon the tiny slice of the population — just 2 million — who happen to be federal workers.
  • We know it could have been much worse. That’s why we fought like the dickens to keep federal employees out of this deal. We have given enough. $114 billion not counting furloughs and the shutdown. We said “NOT A PENNY MORE” and the negotiators certainly heard us. But we meant it. That’s why we must reject this deal, in spite of our deep gratitude for the lawmakers who fought so hard to hold us harmless.
  • I am so proud of this union and its activists. They lit up the Capitol switchboard and took the message to the district offices. Nobody on Capitol Hill is left not realizing how much federal employees have already given.
  • AFGE was around long before I came along, and it will be here long after I’m gone. I respect and hold dear all the hard-fought benefits won by AFGE activists who preceded me. So I can’t endorse giving them away for the next generation. Nobody feels good about this deal. The answer is clear: REPEAL THE BUDGET CONTROL ACT.

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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