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Balancing the Budget on the Backs of Overworked and Underpaid Federal Employees is Just Plain Wrong

December 2, 2010

CONTACT: John J. O’Grady (312) 886-3575

CHICAGO—The American Federation of Government Employees’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Labor Council announced today that it is shocked and dismayed by President Obama’s announced freeze on Federal pay increases. “Numerous politicians have wrongfully attacked government employees under the guise of fiscal responsibility and reducing the Federal deficit, and now President Obama has joined them,” stated AFGE Council 238 Treasurer John J. O’Grady.

The Council questions why President Obama would specifically propose to exempt Federal contractors, knowing full well that the shadow government workforce numbers well over 7.6 million contract employees. “Just the top 200 government contractors alone cost the American taxpayer over $543 billion in fiscal year ending September 30, 2009,” stated O’Grady. “Certainly President Obama does not endorse the fact that top executives of these same government contractors do not need a pay cut, although their salaries are just shy of $700,000, which is paid for in full by the American taxpayer?”

“To balance the budget on the backs of Federal employees, as the President proposes to do, is an insult to the dedicated employees AFGE represents. Federal employees did not run companies into the ground, take a bailout and then receive large raises and bonuses. “This is not only just plain wrong, it is bad policy and sends the wrong message to those responsible for this country’s economic problems. Mr. Obama’s freezing of Federal salaries at the January 2010 levels until January 2013, in the face of rising prices on key items such as education, food and gasoline, is an attack on America’s middle class,” concluded O’Grady. The Council notes that the amount of savings the Obama Administration says this Federal pay freeze will generate is based on inflated figures that aren’t realistic; the Administration’s calculations assumed a 2.5 percent raise for 2011 and a 3.9 percent raise in 2012. However, Federal employees were slated to receive a mere 1.4 percent raise in 2011; and that proposed raise hasn’t even been passed by Congress yet.

Meanwhile the debate continues on plans to extend tax cuts to people making over $1 million per year—at a cost of at least $690 billion to the American taxpayer, or well over seven times what would presumably be saved by eliminating Federal pay raises over the next two years. The people getting this tax break are the same ones who crippled the economy with the way they mismanaged banks, insurance companies and financial institutions. It is hard to believe that Federal employees are now vilified as much, if not more, than the company executives that caused our current economic crisis. AFGE Council 238 urges the President and the anti-Federal employee politicians that a stable, well-trained work force is needed to do the work of government. Senior citizens depend upon a Social Security Administration that is fully staffed to get the correct amount to them on-time. Our wounded and sick veterans depend upon the highly dedicated Veterans Administration Hospital staff to take care of them. Federal employees put their lives on the line guarding and protecting our borders, airports and prisons. America depends upon the Federal employees of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to protect human health and the environment. Who doesn’t want clean air to breathe and safe water to drink? It is unlikely that President Obama gained many supporters with his announcement, but he has certainly jeopardized the vote of a vast majority of Federal employees and their families.

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AFGE Council 238 and its affiliated locals constitute a union of highly dedicated employees working within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nationwide. Membership in the Council includes Locals at EPA Headquarters, Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, all 10 Regional Offices, as well as the National Health & Environmental Effects Research Laboratory in Corvallis and Newport, OR, National Vehicle & Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, MI, and the Robert S. Kerr Research Laboratory in Ada, OK.

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