WASHINGTON The American Federation of Government Employees is calling on members of Congress to reject a mean-spirited proposal from Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick that would extend the two-year pay freeze on federal employees for another year.
Federal employees already have sacrificed $103 billion over 10 years to deficit reduction $60 billion of which has come directly from freezing salaries in 2011 and 2012. President Obama has delayed until April the already-paltry 0.5% adjustment proposed for 2013, so the actual raise would amount to just 0.25% for the fiscal year. Yet even that tiny increase isn't harsh enough for Congressman Fitzpatrick.
Rep. Fitzpatrick has decided to add insult to injury, literally, by maligning the federal employees in his district and proposing to punish all federal workers with an entirely unwarranted extension of the pay freeze for all of 2013.
Reducing the salaries of federal workers through an extended pay freeze is a cheap political ploy, AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. Not only does it inflict tremendous damage on the families of these modestly paid workers, more than half of whom are veterans, but it also hits the communities where these employees live, since they will continue to be unable to afford any kind of economic activity beyond paying for the bare necessities of living.
Proposals such as Representative Fitzpatricks are about one thing: causing a further decline in living standards for America's working families, Cox said.
Fitzpatrick complains about the processing of veterans benefits. The fact is that the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) attempted to outsource the work to a private firm last year, and as is so often the case, the privatization was a complete and expensive disaster. VBA employees had to redo all of the outsourced work. So if Fitzpatrick wants to inflict punishment on those responsible for botched claims, he needs to look at VBAs contractor workforce, not the in-house federal workforce.
Extending the federal pay freeze defies logic or understanding. Does Representative Fitzpatrick believe that taking money out of the modest paychecks of workers who process the claims of disabled veterans will help either his community or the veterans who rely on those benefits? Does he know that over half of the employees who process veterans benefits claims are veterans themselves? Was there any rational thought behind this terrible proposal?
Representative Fitzpatrick needs to become better educated about the issues he tries to affect through legislation, Cox said. His misunderstanding of the reality of where federal salaries stand as compared to those paid in the private sector is appalling. Federal salaries are lower than those paid to private sector and state and local employees who perform the same type of jobs, and if Rep. Fitzpatrick would take the time to look beyond a few hyped-up headlines, he would know better.
AFGE urges Members of Congress to reject Representative Fitzpatricks mean-spirited and simple-minded assault on the living standards of federal employees.