Statement of AFGE National President Bobby L. Harnage on Bonuses to Political Appointees
(WASHINGTON, D.C.)-The day after Thanksgiving, President Bush told us America was at war and that rank and file federal employees would have to sacrifice a quarter of the pay adjustment that Congress had approved for 2003. Three days later we learn that no sacrifice is necessary when it comes to highly paid patronage jobs.
As disappointing and indefensible as this disparate treatment is, it is entirely consistent with President Bush's issues of economic justice. Whether it's tax cuts for the rich or privatizing 850,000 jobs to boost the fortunes of contractors, this administration knows how to enrich the rich and to impoverish working families.
This move is another demonstration of the Enron Syndrome that permeates this administration-one set of rules and numbers for the elite and another set for the rest of us.
President Bush insisted that the single most important thing America could do to improve homeland security was to give him absolute authority over how to set pay for federal workers. Today he has shown America how he uses managerial flexibility-he lavishes $25,000 bonuses on elite political appointees who already make $140,000 and slices off a quarter of the pay adjustment Congress recommended for regular federal workers whose average salaries are about a third of that amount.
The people getting these big bonuses are the ones who have their jobs solely because of their political connections and affiliations. The folks who are getting the shaft are the regular rank and file federal workers who competed to get their jobs based on merit-what they know and what they're able to do for the American people.
There is no justification for the President to use taxpayer money to pay political appointees for carrying out his political agenda. The centerpiece of this agenda is to ruin the lives and careers of 850,000 American workers by privatizing their jobs. The President's privatization agenda is not about saving money-it's about moving money away from the public sector and into the hands of politically well connected contractors.
Note: AFGE Public Policy Director Jacque Simon appeared on CNN's Inside Politics today, December 4, 2002, on this issue.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.