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Lawmaker proposes pay freeze extension, workforce cuts

Federal employee unions are blasting a proposal by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) that would extend the current federal pay freeze and make federal workforce cuts to help head off the looming “fiscal cliff.”

Federal employee unions are blasting a proposal by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) that would extend the current federal pay freeze and make federal workforce cuts to help head off the looming “fiscal cliff.”

Corker’s Fiscal Reform Act of 2012, in addition to reforming Medicare and Social Security, would extend the federal civilian pay freeze through the end of 2015, cut the federal workforce by hiring only one new employee for every three retirements, and—for new federal employees only—reform pension benefits to make them “more comparable with the private sector."

The hiring and benefit reforms add up to $397 billion of the $4.5 trillion, 10-year budget-reduction proposal, according to a summary of the bill Corker released Nov. 26.

The 242-page bill also would institute a variety of other budget reforms and make a number of changes to the tax code.

Labor leaders aired immediate criticism of the reform proposal.

“A problem as serious as the fiscal cliff deserves serious solutions, and Sen. Corker’s proposal sadly falls short of that mark,” William R. Dougan, national president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, said in a statement. “Though his proposal contains many promising provisions such as capping tax deductions and means-testing entitlements, the remainder reads like a greatest hits album of anti-federal employee policies. Under Sen. Corker’s proposal federal workers would pay more for healthcare, more for retirement, and do it all on a smaller paycheck—that is, if they still have a job.”

“My message to Sen. Corker is this: The path to a sustainable fiscal course can’t be found inside the federal employee wallet,” Dougan added.

Other labor leaders concurred.

“The men and women of the federal workforce are middle-class public servants who have already been tapped three times since 2011 to contribute toward our economic woes,” said National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley. “If the government is to remain a competitive employer, it makes absolutely no sense to freeze their pay for what would be a five-year period, degrade their retirement when our nation already is facing a retirement crisis, and turn their model health care plan on its head.”

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