Thanks to AFGE local activists who have reached out to their members of Congress, nine Republicans and 100 Democrats have so far publicly rejected President Trump’s budget proposals targeting federal employees’ retirement benefits.
“Our strongest objection is how the proposals break a promise to employees and retirees who have based career planning on longstanding promised benefit calculations. They and their families don’t deserve to be treated in this cavalier manner,” said the nine Republicans in a June 17 letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
The lawmakers reminded their colleagues that nearly 1 in 3 federal employees are veterans and that the same proposals to cut federal employees’ retirement benefits have been considered and rejected over the past several years.
“Recycling discredited proposals targeting federal workers is disruptive to them and demoralizing to all middle-class civilian worker families,” they wrote. “These proposals would make it even harder to attract and retain the best and the brightest into the civil service.”
The members of Congress were referring to the Trump administration’s proposals to:
- Increase current workers’ payments for their pensions so that they will have to pay a total of 7% of their salaries, rather than 0.8% of salary that those hired before 2013 pay now. For those now paying 0.8% of salary, that is just under a 900% increase – a loss of 6% of salary. This is a huge pay cut. If they, for example, currently earn $50,000 a year, are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System, and were hired before 2013, they would go from paying $400 a year toward their pension to $3,500 a year.
- Reduce future pension benefits by averaging an employee’s highest five years of salary, instead of the highest three years.
- Eliminate annual cost-of-living adjustments for current and future retirees under the Federal Employees Retirement System, and cut the COLA for retirees under the older Civil Service Retirement System by 0.5 percent from the current formula.
- Eliminate supplemental payments to employees who retire before age 62, such as law enforcement officers and firefighters.
They also pointed out that federal employees have given up a total of $182 billion since 2010 in the form of a three-year pay freeze, lower COLA adjustments, increased retirement contributions from the employees, and lost wages from sequestration furloughs. The administration’s proposal to cut their retirement benefits would be an immediate and permanent 6 percent pay cut.
“No one needs to remind us of the deficit and debt problem our nation faces, but federal employees are an easy political target. In more ways than one, they have repeatedly given at the office,” they concluded.
The nine Republican lawmakers are Reps. Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Rob Wittman of Virginia, Rob Bishop of Utah, Tom Cole of Oklahoma, Austin Scott of Georgia, Christopher Smith of New Jersey, Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, and Walter Jones of North Carolina.
The Democrats had written a similar letter to Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Like their Republican colleagues, the Democrats detailed how federal employees have been targeted over the years for pay and retirement benefits cuts and how they should not be singled out yet again for harsh financial sacrifice.
“After dedicating their careers to public service, federal employees and retirees deserve much better from us,” they wrote in a June 14 letter. “Therefore, we will oppose any effort to balance the budget on the backs of public servants, and we urge you to stop legislation from being brought to the House floor that would undermine and demoralize our federal workforce.”
But More Members of Congress Need to Hear from Us
We’re gaining more support from Congress, but we need to keep our momentum going. Call your lawmakers to explain what you do every day for the constituents in their district, and ask them to reject the proposed cuts to your retirement.