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Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

Blog archive

And now things get really interesting

Well, if you wondered how long it would take, the wait is over. A federal employee union—the largest—is once again opposing policies proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), this time in the context of his role as GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s running mate.

The American Federation of Government Employees and other federal employee unions have spent the last year or more blasting policies Ryan has proposed as House Budget Committee chairman, particularly the measures contained in his “Path to Prosperity” fiscal 2013 budget resolution that affect federal employees.

Consequently, it seemed preordained that those groups would line up once again against Ryan’s policies in his new status, even if it took a few days for them to get over the shock of his nomination.

So on Aug. 14, federal workers and union activists from the Nevada AFL-CIO and AFGE, which is holding its national convention in Las Vegas, rallied outside a nearby hotel where Ryan was attending a fundraiser. According to AFGE, there were 1,000 protesters in attendance.

While an AFGE press release highlighted the union’s opposition to Ryan’s authorship or support of proposals that would change federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and purportedly “deliver more tax breaks to the millionaires and billionaires, oil companies and Wall Street firms,” perhaps the main sticking points vis à vis federal employees are contained in four short paragraphs contained in Ryan’s 99-page Path to Prosperity:

“The federal government’s responsibilities require a strong federal workforce. Federal workers deserve to be compensated equitably for their important work, but their pay levels, pay increases and fringe benefits should be reformed to better align with those of their private-sector counterparts.

“Compensation for federal workers continues to outpace pay for their private-sector counterparts. The non-partisan CBO recently released a study saying that federal workers are, on average, compensated 16 percent higher than comparable private-sector employees. Immune from the effects of the recession, federal workers have received regular salary bumps regardless of productivity or economic realities.

“The reforms called for in this budget aim to slow the federal government’s unsustainable growth and reflect the growing frustration of workers across the country at the privileged rules enjoyed by government employees. They reduce the public-sector bureaucracy, not through layoffs, but via a gradual, sensible attrition policy. By 2015, this reform would result in a 10 percent reduction in the federal workforce.

“Additionally, this budget freezes federal pay through 2015 and asks federal employees to make a more equitable contribution to their retirement plans. When combined, these proposals will save taxpayers approximately $368 billion over ten years.”

In the union’s Aug. 15 press release on the demonstration, AFGE Legislative and Political Director Beth Moten said that Ryan’s “anti-federal employee budget proposals” make it “crystal clear that the Ryan budget will be the plan for the Romney Administration.”

Maybe yes, maybe no. Time will tell on that one. Until then, the case is up for debate.

Anyone up for debating it?

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Aug 15, 2012 at 4:02 PM


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