In just two weeks, Americans will flock to the polls to cast their votes in the mid-term elections where all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs. The people we elect on Nov. 6 will make policy decisions that will shape the future of our country for years to come.
As a federal employee, it’s your chance to make your voice heard and hold politicians accountable. Besides Social Security, health care, voting rights, and other important issues, your entire livelihood is on the line. It’s not about party affiliation. It’s about voting for candidates who appreciate federal employees and support our work providing crucial services to the American people.
Here’s what’s at stake on Nov.6:
1. Your job
Privatizing government jobs has been a theme for this administration and many in the current Congress. Within a month after taking office, the Trump administration reversed the Obama-era decision to phase out private prisons. They have been starving federal prisons and instead moving money to private prisons ever since. At the Department of Veterans Affairs, recent laws have kicked the door wide open for wholesale privatization of veterans’ health care. Private security firms have worked with members of Congress to privatize airport security wherever they can. Lawmakers try every year to lift the governmentwide ban on A-76 outsourcing studies. They even tried to change the definition of job functions so most federal jobs could be outsourced. With the current make-up of Congress, no federal job is safe.
2. Your pay
Our union works very hard to convince members of Congress not to freeze your pay next year. We shouldn’t have to. With a massive tax cut for the rich and previous federal pay freezes and other benefit cuts, a pay freeze for federal employees in 2019 shouldn’t even be on the table. Yet the Trump administration proposed the pay freeze. Without our members’ and staff’s intervention, it would have already been a done deal. We need to elect candidates who support us and the work we do.
3. Your retirement and other deferred compensation plans
Republican members of Congress have tried every year to make it harder for you to retire with economic security. Here are some of their proposals:
- Lower your retirement income by calculating it based on the average of your highest five consecutive years of basic pay rather than the highest three years.
- Reduce the government’s contribution to your retirement by requiring you to pay more. This equals a 6.45 % salary reduction for the vast majority of employees.
- Eliminate the FERS supplement for federal employees who retire before Social Security kicks in at age 62.
- Eliminate the defined benefit pension plan altogether for new employees and switch to a 401(k)- style defined contribution plan.
- Eliminate modest COLAs for FERS participants and reduce COLAs for CSRS annuitants.
- Cut basic death benefit and surviving child annuities.
- The same politicians who are calling for cuts to your retirement are the people who pushed massive tax cuts for billionaires and corporations last year and are planning more tax cuts for the wealthy this year as well as cuts to Medicare and Social Security.
4. Your voice at work and right to join together in unions
In addition to Trump’s illegal executive orders that seek to wipe our union out of the federal government, there are several bills pending in Congress that would take away your workplace rights and protections. For example:
H.R. 559, introduced by Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Wisconsin, would politicize the civil service by making it easier for politicians to fire federal employees by removing checks and balances and certain workplace due process rights. Specifically, the bill prohibits the use of the grievance procedures negotiated between our union and agencies to appeal adverse actions and unfair reductions in force actions.
H.R. 1364, introduced by Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, would eliminate official time for all federal government workers. It would take away our union’s ability to defend employees who are wrongfully fired, disciplined, harassed or retaliated against. And it would steal the pension of any government worker who has gone over a limited amount of official time to protect a fellow union member.
H.R. 3257, introduced by Rep. Todd Rokita of Indiana, would also eliminate official time and many of your workplace rights.
Make your voice heard
Nov. 6 is your chance to stand up to these anti-government, anti-union politicians and their policies that seek to harm working people. Make a plan to vote. Here’s a list of candidates by state who will support you and your union.