J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), today denounced plans to furlough federal employees as the threat of sequestration looms over the federal government.
“We absolutely reject the notion that federal employees should be subjected to furloughs as part of Congress’ destructive game of sequestration,” said Cox. “There are countless alternative ways to save that agencies can and should pursue before a single federal employee should be forced out of work. Federal employees have already given $103 billion toward deficit reduction. Enough is enough.”
Cox also pointed to the out-of-control costs for service contractors throughout the federal government. In the Department of Defense alone, service contractor costs have ballooned from $72 billion to more than $200 billion a year in the past decade.
“So far, service contractors have not been asked to give a dime toward deficit reduction. In fact, they continue to grab more and more from taxpayers, even while public services are cut back. Meanwhile federal employees, who repair weapons, defend the borders, process Social Security benefits, protect the food supply, and prevent terrorists from getting on airplanes face a demand for unpaid furloughs of up to 22 days. Furloughs are as unjust as they are unnecessary. The federal government’s contractor workforce is both larger and more costly than its in-house workforce, and there is no reason that all or most of sequestration’s savings shouldn’t come from them.”
Furloughing most of the civilian workforce for 22 days by the end of September would have a devastating effect on federal employees across the country. These furloughs amount to a 20% pay cut between now and the end of September. Coming on top of 27 months of pay freeze, the notion of furloughs is simply too much to demand.
“Furloughs should be the very last resort of agencies, not the very first as the administration has proposed. It is an outrage to expect federal workers to be, once again, thrown by themselves into the frontlines of these budget battles. Our members take home an average of about $500 per week after taxes and deductions. Taking away a fifth of that -- $100 per week -- will mean the difference between covering the mortgage and putting food on the table,” said Cox.
“We call on Congress and all federal agencies to suspend all furlough plans and initiatives immediately. Do not come to us for furloughs until you have taken proportional cuts from your costly service contractors.”