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Federal Employees News Digest : March 4, 2013
Phil Piemonte, Managing Editor E-mail: email@example.com What's Inside44 March 4, 2013 • Vol. 62, No. 31 Fed unions blast---and brace for---furloughs Federal employee unions loudly protest- ed budget reductions and staff furloughs, all of which threatened through the final days and hours left to Congress to free itself from across-the-board cuts mandated under the Budget Control Act of 2011. But the chiefs of those unions, for the most part, did not hold out much hope of turning things around---at least not before the deadline passed. For most employees at most departments, this will mean one-day-per-week involun- tary, unpaid furloughs---a 20 percent pay cut---if Congress fails to rescind the sequester by a Mar. 1 deadline, with fur- loughs to follow soon afterward across most agencies. "It does not look good," William R. Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, told FEND. "It's really disappointing that Congress just doesn't seem able to find a solution to the problem, one that in fact they created." "I think the potential for a [quick reso- lution] on this does not exist," Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, told FEND. "I am not optimistic about that." American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox told CNN Feb. 25 that he also didn't expect a solution before the deadline, while noting that a sequester could still be stopped---if only Congress would just "pass a budget [and] move this country forward." NFFE: DoD in focus "The vast majority of our membership is certainly going to be adversely affected by the sequestration," NFFE's Dougan told FEND. "Even before a sequester, a lot of our members have been living paycheck to paycheck, [and] with 20 percent of their pay likely to be taken away, it really calls into question whether they can pay their mortgage and rent, keep their lights on and put food on their table." "These folks are going to have to be making some very tough choices---with that much of their income disappearing overnight," Dougan added, emphasizing that most of his union's members work for DOD, leaving a wide disconnect in the air between the hand-to-mouth fed pay facts and a media focus on Defense contractor "fat cats." Dougan lamented another disconnect that might come into focus if across- the-board cuts hit: the country "depends on DOD." "In terms of having the most impact--- direct and indirect---here we're talk- ing our military readiness, for God's sakes," Dougan told FEND. "With every- thing that's going on over there---in the Middle East, you have several countries in an uproar and Iran getting more and more capable---but, just anticipating the sequester, the Navy can't send a second carrier battle group to the Persian Gulf !" A small matter of the law When Congress and the White House agreed to the sequestra- tion process, neither side (they both now claim) expected it to happen. It was a poison pill. Democrats figured it would force Republicans to accept tax increases. Republicans hoped it would force Democrats to sign off on cuts in entitlement programs. Sequestration, with $1.3 trillion of across-the-board cuts, was intended to be so objectionable, so unfair and so stupid that the politicians who cre- ated it would abort it in favor of targeted cuts in entitlements, and tar- geted tax increases. The furloughs that would accompany sequestration were aimed at inflaming the public because they would cut into services, hamper national defense, impact the airlines and food safety. Too horrible to con- template. Before the 2012 presidential elec- tion, administration officials told agencies to downplay talk of seques- tration and service-cutting furloughs. The Labor Department told defense contractors that the mandatory 60-day furlough alert letters they were sup- posed to send out---by law---really INSIGHT BY MIKE CAUSEY continued on page 2 For more news...see Federal Daily at www.FederalDaily.com • Survey queries feds on sequester 3 • In Brief 4 • Legal Matters 6 • Informed Investor 7 • Federal Benefits Q&A 8 continued on page 3
Feb. 25, 2013
March 11, 2013