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Survey: Cuts, freeze and sequester prep squeezing feds

The National Treasury Employees Union Feb. 26 joined a rising chorus of federal employee organizations—with the union’s president issuing its strongest criticism to date of the federal budget sequester legislation—and agency furloughs that are slated to be activated by it.

The National Treasury Employees Union Feb. 26 joined a rising chorus of federal employee organizations—with the union’s president issuing its strongest criticism to date of the federal budget sequester legislation—and agency furloughs that are slated to be activated by it.

NTEU conducted an online survey to gauge several hardships facing federal employees, specifically drawing from the union’s 150,000-plus members. The survey queried respondents regarding the suffering caused by budget cuts to date, by the two-year federal pay freeze and by the damage that employees expect the across the board cuts could cause.

That survey, with 2,258 feds participating, reveals numerous, often severe challenges that financial cutbacks are putting on feds.

“These are not theoretical consequences,” said NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley. “These are actual, serious problems that real people will face, with lasting impact on their lives.”

To illustrate, in terms of workplace and mission problems caused by the cuts, 80 percent say that due to existing budget cuts those who leave are not being replaced and 48 percent report that “critical work is not getting done.” All told, 68 percent of respondents report that their agency lacks the resources to complete their missions properly.

On the home front, the picture of trouble caused by the freeze looks even worse. Fully 74 percent of those surveyed report that—due to the pay freeze already in place—they “have had to cut back on necessities.” Next, 66 percent report having “trouble making ends meet,” with 60 percent saying they are “getting further into debt.” Another 29 percent report already having sought “assistance or loans to pay … bills.”

Under the sequester, 82 percent predict they’ll suffer further pay losses due to expected furloughs so bad they “will have trouble paying their rent or mortgage, utility bills and food expenses,” 63 percent say they “will have to take money out of savings or retirement,” and 57 percent say they will need to take out “new debt to make ends meet.”

Union members meet representatives

NTEU’s Kelley unveiled the results at an event where she amplified the coming troubles for federal employees by introducing several union members who work for IRS and CBP and who were slated to speak to members of Congress about how furloughs will impact their financial situation, and how they might impede each agency’s mission.

“Their stories will underscore how, under sequestration, federal workers and their families will face financial hardships, including foreclosure, making hard choices about medical care and choices between paying bills and putting food on their tables,” Kelley said.

Kelley reiterated that federal workers to date “have contributed $103 billion to deficit reduction through the pay freeze”---beginning in January 2011—as well as through raised pension contributions coming in from new federal hires.

For more on the survey, go to www.nteu.org.

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