December 10, 2018
Here are stories you need to know this week.
As public servants, federal employees take an oath of office by which they swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” and “faithfully discharge the duties of the office” on which they are about to enter.
The Constitution not only creates our national government but also defines the role and responsibilities of government employees to “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.”
Federal employees take their oath of office and their agency’s mission seriously. They have for generations faithfully executed their duties to serve public interest, and we don’t expect that to change in 2018 despite new challenges.
Federal employees show up for work despite severe staffing shortages, budget cuts, and attacks on their mission, compensation, and voice at work.
They show up for work despite the fact that nearly one year into the Trump presidency, hundreds of key positions in the government have either not been confirmed by the Senate or even nominated. The president himself said he intends to leave many jobs empty.
Here are a few examples of government employees doing what they have been hired to do despite the odds:
1. Serving the American public
There are 49,000 vacancies at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and politicians are not in a rush to fill these positions. Instead, they’re hoping to send veterans to for-profit private hospitals that are often not specialized in veterans’ illnesses. At VA hospitals across the country, VA employees are doing the best they can despite being severely understaffed. One in three VA employees are veterans, and they have taken to the streets to shine a spotlight on the understaffing issue that puts veterans’ lives at risk.
At the Social Security Administration, employees are doing the best they can to handle an influx of baby boomers seeking their earned benefits after SSA shut down at least 64 field offices and 533 contact stations. These cuts have resulted in a loss of 3,200 field employees and 450 tele-service agents. The administration and politicians are seeking even more cuts in 2018 and beyond. As Social Security is not only for retirees but also for people with disabilities and children who lost their parents, the workload is expected to increase by 32% by 2025.
2. Saving lives
The employees at the Environmental Protection Agency are indeed unsung heroes who are committed to protecting public health despite attacks on their very mission. It’s not easy working for an administrator who spent his entire career suing the EPA on behalf of polluters. It’s not easy having to endure severe cuts to important programs that save lives, including the Superfund program that cleans up America’s most toxic sites. To protect the public they serve, they’ve joined environmental groups to protest this bad policy.
At health agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the Center for Disease Control, world-class researchers and scientists are committed to finding cures to disease even though the administration has sought massive cuts to medical research, scientific research, and disease prevention programs.
Last year’s hurricane season was one of the worst in history, and FEMA employees who sprang into action proved why the administration’s intent to cut natural disaster funding is a bad idea.
3. Making America proud
NASA scientists and their mission to further knowledge of our home planet and the search for life on other worlds never cease to amaze us. From Apollo 13’s journey to the Moon to Pioneer 10’s flight to Jupiter, what they have accomplished is a source of pride for us all. NASA’s space technologies have also given birth to various everyday products that Americans benefit from, including firefighter gear, LED lights, artificial limbs, and anti-icing systems. NASA employees continue their space exploration despite inconsistent budgets and a constant threat of a government shutdown.
4. Protecting the homeland
TSA is facing a budget cut that would eliminate some important security programs, but TSA officers continue to do an amazing job protecting air travelers. Last year, they confiscated more guns at airports, ensuring passengers are safe. There were no commercial passenger jet deaths anywhere in the world in 2017 in part because of the passenger screening done by TSA agents.
Defense civilian employees are doing a terrific job supporting our war fighters despite facing a constant push from special interests to have their jobs privatized. These employees are aircraft mechanics who keep the aircraft and our pilots safe, accountants who make sure our soldiers get paid on time, IT specialists who keep our systems secure and running. And the list goes on.
If you are a federal employee and haven’t joined AFGE, join us now and be a part of the movement that builds a government that works for all Americans and not just the rich and powerful.
Here are stories you need to know this week.
Nearly 72,000 federal employees will begin receiving higher locality payments in January.
On Dec. 6, the House and Senate passed, and President Trump signed, a short-term stopgap bill that funds the government through Dec. 21.