After election, unions brace for attacks on pay, retirement benefits

Nov. 5, 2014 – 01:56PM   |  By ANDY MEDICI

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Unions are worried about congressional attacks on pay and benefits. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

The next few years will be tough for federal employees as Congress tries harder to cut federal pay and benefits, according to union leaders.

Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said she is concerned that the new Congress will try to cut federal retirement benefits and reduce the size of the workforce.

“In the lame duck session and when the new Congress convenes, NTEU will be pressing for adequate agency funding. Severe budget cuts have resulted in staffing shortages, insufficient training and a reduction in services to the public,” Colleen Kelley said.

In the Senate, Republicans captured the majority of seats, while maintaining the party’s hold on the House of Representatives.

She said there were numerous bills targeting federal employees over the last year and she expects to see more of that legislation in January, when the new Congress convenes.

Kelley also cited an Oct. 29 letter from Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., asking the Congressional Budget Office to weigh various retirement benefit changes as a cause for concern.

But one of the most important short-term priorities is the passage of a new funding bill to keep the government open – the current continuing resolution lasts until Dec. 11, according to Kelley.

J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said the union will work with anyone in Congress to protect federal pay and benefits.

He said the union will focus on securing a larger pay raise for federal employees, fighting back against cuts to benefits and ending the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration.

“At the end of the day we’re always going to do what’s best for hardworking government employees, and we’re going to use every resource at our disposal to protect their pay, benefits, and jobs from whatever challenges lay ahead,” Cox said.

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