Yesterday’s Congressional Budget Office report on federal employee compensation is already renewing the debate over the federal-vs.-private sector pay gap. The report — which concluded federal employees are compensated 16 percent higher than private sector workers — prompted the conservative Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute and the libertarian Cato Institute to take victory laps.
Heritage’s Jason Richwine and James Sherk quibbled with CBO’s methodology (CBO’s findings generally tracked with Heritage’s conclusions that feds receive higher pay and benefits than the private sector, though CBO said the difference was much slimmer). But overall, they view the report as vindication and used it to swipe at Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, federal unions, and other left-leaning organizations who criticized Heritage’s assertions. Said Richwine and Sherk:
Heritage’s prior critics, however, must now either redirect their same harsh invective at the CBO or — much better — acknowledge the validity of our conclusions.
The American Federation of Government Employees is choosing the former. In a statement released last night, AFGE National President John Gage blasted the study as “pointless,” “absurd,” “academic and irrelevant.” Gage said:
Colleen Kelley was elected to her fourth four-year term as president of the National Treasury Employees Union last night.
Delegates to NTEU’s national convention chose Kelley overwhelmingly over challenger Eddie Walker. About 86 percent of votes were cast for Kelley.
Kelley pledged to keep fighting political attacks on federal employees, and to get agencies to provide enough personnel, equipment and other resources so employees can do their jobs properly.
“I am honored by the privilege to continue my efforts to move NTEU forward, to help ensure the voices of federal employees are heard in Congress and in their agencies, and to work to see that the public recognizes the dedication, commitment and professionalism of the federal workforce,” Kelley said.
Walker criticized Kelley for losing the election to represent Transportation Security Administration employees, and said that under her leadership, NTEU has not pushed hard enough for employees.
The National Treasury Employees Union is sick and tired of federal employees being knocked, and today announced a major nationwide public relations campaign that seeks to get them the respect they deserve. Their “Federal Employees … They Work For U.S.” campaign has distributed public service announcements to 200 television stations and 600 radio stations nationwide that highlight what feds contribute to society.
It comes at a time when the government is scrambling to find ways to slash the deficit, and cuts to federal employees’ pay and benefits have popped up on every major debt reduction plan. This has federal employee advocates nervous, and eager to change the narrative that has taken hold — primarily among conservatives — that federal employees are overpaid, underworked drains on society. But Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry has often said that while some people love to rail against “pasty-faced,” anonymous bureaucrats, their opinions change when you start talking about specific federal employees.
(Anyone who’s heard Berry’s usual stump speech has heard his incredibly animated impression of a grouchy, anti-fed citizen turning on a dime and enthusing about the National Park Service ranger who guided his family around Gettysburg, the federal firefighter who put out a forest fire and saved his home, and the Secret Service agent who exudes professionalism.)
This campaign aims to accomplish just that personalization. In a briefing with reporters announcing the campaign, NTEU President Colleen Kelley said:
Federal employees do very important work every day. They guard our borders, and they protect our air and our water supply, they provide school lunches to children around the country. They do important things that the public doesn’t really pay attention to because it happens, and so they expect it will happen.
Kelley said the PSAs could run anywhere from six months to a year, and NTEU plans to take the fight to social media as well, primarily through a Facebook page. Here are the two TV spots some stations are already running:
The National Treasury Employees Union is the first union out of the gate responding to the GOP’s promise to freeze non-security federal hiring if they retake one or both houses of Congress. NTEU President Colleen Kelley just released a statement that said the freeze would “result in less effective, less efficient services being provided to the public.”
Even under a hiring freeze the work of the federal government would still have to be done, as the American public expects. But without sufficient staffing, federal agencies would be forced to turn to unaccountable and costly private contractors.
This would return our country to the policies of the previous administration which encouraged unaccountable contracting including the use of no-bid, sole source and cost plus agreements. The effort to move federal work out of the hands of federal employees resulted in higher costs to taxpayers, poor services and questionable transactions.
The Republicans’ proposal would not halt all hiring, however. A spokeswoman for Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said that agencies under the freeze could hire to replace attrition, as long as there is no net increase in the size of the workforce.