WASHINGTON – American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. issued the following statement in response to the budget deal announced today by the Budget Conference Committee:
“Despite the extraordinarily hard work of several Congressional leaders, AFGE cannot support any budget deal that asks for more from federal employees. AFGE represents more than just the 670,000 federal and D.C government employees on the rolls today, but every other federal worker who will one day take the oath and be forced to live with this needless pension cut.
“AFGE rejects the notion that there should be a trade-off between funding the programs to which federal employees have devoted their lives, and their own livelihoods. Though the $6 billion in increased retirement contributions for new employees is less severe than the administration’s $20 billion proposal, it is still unacceptable.
“Newly hired federal employees already pay 3.1% of their salaries toward their defined benefit pension and 6.2% to Social Security. Forcing employees hired after 2013 to pay an additional 1.3% -- for a total of 4.4% -- toward their pension will make it all but impossible for them to fund their Thrift Savings Plan accounts. The result will be a serious shortfall in their retirement income security, and a substantial lowering of their standard of living.
“We also are concerned with the impact of the new self plus one category in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which will raise costs for families with more than two persons.
“None of this would be occurring were it not for the perverted logic of austerity politics. The Budget Control Act was a grave mistake, and the spending cuts it imposes year after year have been ruinous for our economy and for the government services on which all Americans depend. Spending cuts hurt the poor and the vulnerable, and they also hurt military readiness, medical research, enforcement of clean air and water rules, access to housing and education, transportation systems and infrastructure, and homeland security. Congress should focus its efforts on repealing the Budget Control Act, not pitting federal workers against the very programs to which they have committed their lives.
“While we have not yet seen the language limiting the compensation taxpayers must pay for individual contractor employees to $487,000, AFGE will work to lower the overall amount, which is still too high, and also will work to ensure that there are no unnecessary loopholes or exceptions. Although limiting contractor compensation technically doesn’t ‘score’ for budget purposes, GAO estimates that it will save almost $500 million annually, just in DoD. Agencies will be better off by being able to rid themselves of ridiculously high compensation for contractor employees.
“AFGE’s members are extremely grateful for the heroic work of House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen of Maryland for his efforts as a chief negotiator of the budget deal, and in particular for his extraordinary efforts to protect current federal employees. AFGE also is grateful to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts, Frank Wolf of Virginia, Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Nita Lowey of New York for their leadership in pushing for a deal that would not unfairly punish federal workers. Finally, Senators Patty Murray of Washington, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Harry Reid of Nevada all worked hard to ensure that the budget deal was fair for federal workers.”