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Federal Employees News Digest : Nov. 5, 2012
Phil Piemonte, Managing Editor E-mail: email@example.com What's Inside44 November 5, 2012 • vol. 62, No. 17 Union fights 'unbalanced' pay freeze, cuts This week, FEND's Nathan Abse inter- views Cory Bythrow, the communications director of the National Federation of Federal Employees, to explore the efforts of the organization of more than 110,000 feds in its fight against lingering congres- sional proposals to maintain the federal pay freeze, and to make deeper cuts in federal jobs and pay. Q&A with NFFE Communications Director Cory Bythrow The federal employee pay freeze---passed during the worst period of the economic downturn---has been a fact of life for two years. Congressional Republicans seek a longer freeze, or even cuts in pay. President Obama is proposing a raise--- but it's a mere 0.5 percent. Where are you at NFFE in your efforts to end the freeze and prevent cuts? Bythrow: Let's take a step back, and talk about the impact of the pay freeze so far. It's having a very serious impact on the bottom lines of federal employees and their families. Federal employees have not been immune from the reces- sion in several additional ways. The pay freeze aside, many have spouses or family members who've experienced pay cuts as well as rising health care costs and falling retirement savings interest rates. Imposing this pay freeze has just been another nail in a much larger financial coffin. So, when you look at last week's National Salary Council study results--- which show the huge pay gap, with feds far below the private sector---what you see is that incomes in the private sector are recovering, if only slowly, while the federal sector continues to fall behind, and quickly. The report showed an 8 percent widening in the gap between federal-sector salaries and private-sector salaries---in just a single year! That's a very marked downward move, and rela- tive decrease, in federal-sector pay. We add a couple things to this picture. We posted a graph based on a study reported on by Bloomberg news, showing that private-sector salaries, after dropping in 2009, have been growing at 2 percent a year since---at least keeping up with inflation. Meanwhile, another line shows federal employees' salaries just have been stuck. Other federal unions and some studies agree with NFFE on this. But what about the several other studies---and not just one by the conservative Cato Institute--- that show feds are relatively overpaid? Even major news organizations continue to publish these as if they were possibly factual. Bythrow: Right. You know, as a gen- eral principal, when looking at statistics you have to consider their source. If you Settling the issue By now (or very soon, depending on when you read this) we should know many if not most of the winners and losers in this year's election. The fact that it's over will be relief to a lot of people for whom cam- paigns that now run up to two years get old after awhile. Others will miss the rough and tumble, and the triumphs and goofs of the campaign. One of the more interesting things will be to see how the pollsters who got it all wrong explain why what they said would happen didn't. Above my desk I have a postcard that I look at frequently. It is the iconic don't-count-your-chickens picture that everybody should see from time to time. It's the famous picture of underdog and loser (not) President Harry Truman. He's grinning from ear to ear, holding up a copy of the Chicago Tribune with its banner headline: DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN. Mr. Truman was the underdog, a sure loser, according to the pollsters. Except he won and Gov. Tom Dewey didn't! Most pollsters work with a pool of 1,000 or fewer people. Some interview people who are eligible to vote. Others interview people who are likely (according to them) to vote. Still others interview people who say they are undecided. The margin of error is usually plus or minus 3 percentage points. Whether that is true or not, I don't INSIGHT BY MIKE CAUSEY continued on page 2 For more news...see Federal Daily at www.FederalDaily.com • Retirees face tighter times 4 • In Brief 5 • Informed Investor 7 • Federal Benefits Q&A 8 continued on page 3
Oct. 29, 2012
Nov. 12, 2012