The Month in Media
“Unless the sequester is ended, it will have a crushing impact on jobs and economic growth, and will cripple the ability of the government to deliver services to the American public.”
NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley
“Agencies continue to struggle with low morale”
Federal Times | May 6, 2014
The media continues to turn to NTEU as a key source for the perspective of federal employees and for the union's position on issues affecting federal workers. Below are excerpts of news stories that were published in May. Generally, the opening paragraph of each story is included as well as those paragraphs that feature NTEU's position on the issue. In many cases, links to the complete story are available by visiting NTEU in the News.
• In a letter to the editor, President Colleen M. Kelley defends the pay of NTEU-represented employees at financial regulatory agencies. Read the clips.
• Sequestration, benefits cuts, and pay freezes have all taken a toll on federal employee morale, President Kelley told a Senate committee. Read the clips.
• NTEU has consistently called for increased CBP staffing, and now the agency plans to hire an additional 2,000 new officers. Read the clips.
• The Senate joins the House in introducing NTEU-supported legislation providing a 3.3 percent federal pay raise in 2015. Read the clips.
• It's back! NTEU speaks out against a proposal to revive private tax collection. Read the clips.
• Other news stories this month include NTEU's opposition to legislation that would fire federal employees with tax delinquencies. Read the clips.
Letter to the Editor: Public Service Recognition Week honors our civil servants (Published in by the Alabama Media Group)
Letter to the Editor: Compare the Apples in Rating Examiner Compensation (Published in the Wall Street Journal)
The April 22 op-ed by Paul Kupiec ("Guess Who Makes More Than Bankers: Their Regulators") offers a flawed analysis of the pay of federal financial regulators.
Federal regulators have to go toe-to-toe not only with the banks' top leadership, but with legal and financial experts who work for outside law firms and consultants hired to protect the industries' interests. Their salaries were not in the comparison Mr. Kupiec uses.
The more appropriate measure is the BLS National Compensation Survey, which provides much more information on the level of work including the difficulty or complexity performed in private-sector jobs.
Colleen M. Kelley
National President, National Treasury Employees Union, Washington
May 4, 2014
Letter to the Editor: Let’s honor our federal workers (Published in the Providence Journal, R.I.)
May 4–10 is Public Service Recognition Week. It is a time set aside to reflect on the many contributions of civil servants at every level of government — including the federal workforce — to the well-being of our nation.
As president of Chapter 54 of the National Treasury Employees Union, I have the honor of representing over 75 employees who work locally for the Internal Revenue Service. NTEU is the largest independent federal union, representing 150,000 federal employees in 31 agencies and departments.
More than 85 percent of federal workers live outside of Washington, D.C. In our community and across the country, NTEU members and other federal employees perform such services as helping protect our border; ensuring the quality of our air and water; making sure our food, medicines and medical devices are safe and effective; and much more.
Paul H. McGunagle, Narragansett
May 4, 2014
As Vice President of Chapter 168 of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), I have the honor of representing employees who work locally in Birmingham for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Everyone I represent and know in the federal workforce considers public service more than just a job. To each of them, the opportunity it presents to help improve the lives of others truly makes it a calling. I encourage you to learn more about how federal employees contribute to our country and our state at TheyWorkforUS.org.
John M. Turner Jr.
Vice President of Chapter 168 of the National Treasury Employees Union
May 5, 2014
May 5, 2014
Senate hearing seeks to ‘cultivate’ the federal workforce (Washington Post)
The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs federal workforce subcommittee hearing coincides with Public Service Recognition Week. The leaders of the employee organizations will use the hearing to complain that federal employees are not being recognized properly.
“Federal employees have had their benefits diminished by $138 billion in the name of deficit reduction. $138 billion. They are the only group in the country to have been singled out to fix the federal deficit,” Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, says in her prepared statement.
“How do we cultivate the federal workforce when that workforce endures years of stagnant wages and lives under constant attack on their benefits and bad and misleading press?”
Senate Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Federal Workforce Issues (ExecutiveGov)
A subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday to discuss challenges facing government employees, The Washington Post reported Monday.
“Federal employees have had their benefits diminished by $138 billion in the name of deficit reduction,” Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in a written testimony prepared for the hearing, The Post reports.
Agencies continue to struggle with low morale (Federal Times)
“They are the only group in the country to have been singled out to fix the federal deficit,” Kelley said, according to Davidson’s article.
May 6, 2014
Sequestration, furloughs and tight budgets have taken a toll on federal employee morale, and federal employee groups say that agencies’ efforts to make things better are not enough for a workforce hammered by benefit cuts.
Colleen Kelley, the president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said sequestration will cut already-tight budgets even further in coming years.
Hearing weighs causes of, solutions to low morale in federal workforce (Federal News Radio)
“Unless the sequester is ended, it will have a crushing impact on jobs and economic growth, and will cripple the ability of the government to deliver services to the American public,” she said.
May 6, 2014
Federal employee reps warn about flagging morale (The Hill)
Reduced compensation and higher work demands are demoralizing federal employees and lowering the quality of the government workforce, representatives from several major federal employee groups said in testimony on Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon.
Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents about 150,000 federal workers, emphasized the greater stress on employees due to cuts in staff. The IRS, she said, has 10,000 fewer employees than four years ago, but the amount of work to be done has increased, causing a decline in service and unhappiness within the ranks.
“For federal employees, the government shutdown was just another indication that Congress does not place importance on the work that they do,” Kelley said.
May 6, 2014
Tester's subcommittee held a hearing Tuesday on federal morale entitled A More Efficient and Effective Government: Cultivating the Federal Workforce.
Colleen M. Kelley, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) told the committee another reason employee morale is so low is that many agencies don't have enough people to do the job at hand, which increases the workload and adds stress to existing employees.
"Employees leave and no one is hired to replace them," she said. "Although the recently passed bipartisan budget act changed the amount of 2014 and 2015 funding, cuts will still be needed in the years of 2016 to 2021 due to the sequester funding levels in place under the budget control act. Unless the sequester is ended, it's going to have a crushing impact on jobs and economic growth and it will cripple the ability of the government to deliver services to the American public."
May 7, 2014
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|CBP's Additional Staffing
May 5, 2014
Customs and Border Protection to Hire 2,000 (GovExec)
At a time of federal downsizing, the Customs and Border Protection website is displaying a prominent “Now Hiring” notice, part of a push to recruit 2,000 officers to be stationed at air, land and sea ports nationwide.
But the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents CBP, argues Congress needs to do more to protect the borders. At an April 8 hearing of the House Homeland Security Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee, NTEU President Colleen Kelley called for a hike in customs and immigration user fees to bring the total number of CBP officers to 25,775.
“CBP will still face staffing shortages in fiscal 2015 and beyond,” she said. “If Congress is serious about job creation, then Congress should support enactment of legislation that increases (user fees) by $2 each and adjusts those fees annually to inflation.”
May 2, 2014
Customs and Border Protection to hire 2,000 (Government Security News)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) plans to hire 2,000 new officers at air, land, and sea ports across the country over the next two years. Approved as part of the DHS’s fiscal year 2014 budget, 44 ports within 18 states will receive new officers. Some ports will include New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Buffalo, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Las Vegas, and New Orleans.
The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) represents CBP, and, at a hearing of the House Homeland Security Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee, NTEU President Colleen Kelley called for an increase in customs and immigration user fees, or money the agency can collect for processing passengers/travelers and their goods. “CBP will still face staffing shortages in fiscal 2015 and beyond. If Congress is serious about job creation, then Congress should support enactment of legislation that increases (user fees) by $2 each and adjusts those fees annually to inflation.”
CBP to Hire 2,000 New Officers; Colleen Kelley Comments (ExecutiveGov)
Customs and Border Protection is set to hire 2,000 new officers who will be stationed at 44 ports in 18 states around the U.S., Government Executive said Friday.
Despite the 2,000 new employees, Colleen Kelley, National Treasury Employees Union president, said the agency will still have staffing shortages this year and beyond.
May 5, 2014
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Senators propose 3.3 percent federal pay hike to start in 2015 (Federal News Radio)
Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced legislation Friday calling for a 3.3 percent pay increase for federal employees. If enacted, feds would see the increase from the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act go into effect in calendar year 2015.
Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, also applauded the legislation.
"After several years of pay freezes, unpaid furloughs and government shutdowns, it is time for federal employee pay to get back on track," she said, in a release.
May 23, 2014
Hawaii Senator Wants 3.3% Pay Raise for Federal Employees (FedSmith)
Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) quietly introduced legislation late this week (S 2397) proposing a 3.3% pay increase for federal workers. Schatz introduced his legislation on Thursday without any statement or press release. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) is co-sponsoring the legislation.
Federal employee unions were quick to praise the introduction of the Schatz bill.
“We appreciate Senator Schatz and Senator Cardin introducing this bill to provide a fair pay raise for federal employees in 2015, and will work to garner support for it,” added NTEU president Colleen M. Kelley.
May 23, 2014
Bill would give feds 3.3 percent pay raise in 2015 (Federal Times)
Federal employees would receive a 3.3 percent pay raise in 2015 — more than triple the 1 percent given in 2014 — under legislation introduced May 23 by a pair of Democratic senators.
Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said the legislation would help federal pay get back on track.
“We appreciate Senator Schatz and Senator Cardin introducing this bill to provide a fair pay raise for federal employees in 2015 and will work to garner support for it,” Kelley said.
May 27, 2014
Senate bill calls for 3.3 percent pay hike (Federal Soup)
Employee groups praised the introduction of legislation that would provide federal workers with a 3.3 percent pay raise in 2015.
National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley, who called for a 3.3 percent pay increase at the union's legislative conference earlier this year, noted that federal employees have persevered even amid frozen wages and agency budget cuts.
“Severely squeezed agency budgets as a result of sequestration are making it increasingly difficult for federal employees to do their jobs,” Kelley said. “Even so, and despite the continuing attacks on their pay and their contributions to America, they continue to do their jobs with skill and dedication. Clearly, a fair pay increase is in order.”
NTEU said it based the proposed increase on the Employment Cost Index and the formula for federal pay raises outlined in law.
May 27, 2014
Online calculator shows what a pay raise would mean for federal workers next year (AL.com)
A three-year pay freeze for federal workers ended in January with a 1-percent across-the-board raise and President Barack Obama is proposing the same increase in 2015. Others, including a pair of Democratic Senators, want to see a 3.3 percent raise while federal employee unions want at least 4 percent.
"After several years of pay freezes, unpaid furloughs and government shutdowns, it is time for federal employee pay to get back on track," said National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley. "If the federal government is going to be competitive with the private sector in efforts to recruit and retain the high-quality employees necessary to serve the public, fair pay increases are a necessity."
May 28, 2014
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|Private Collection Agencies
Congress Reviews Plan to Revive IRS Use of Private Collectors (Collections & Credit Risk)
A plan to restart a controversial program allowing the Internal Revenue Service to contract with private collection agencies to pursue millions of unpaid tax bills is now on the Senate floor.
The IRS phased out a similar program in 2009.
The National Treasury Employees Union opposed that effort, stating it believes the government missed out on millions of dollars in potential revenue while paying $102 million to fund administrative and commission costs. The NTEU championed shutting down the program and opposes the revived measure.
May 16, 2014
Cardin Amendment Would Strip Private Debt Collection Provision (Tax Notes)
Senate Finance Committee member Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., has introduced an amendment to the Senate's tax extenders bill to strip a provision that would reinstate a private debt collection program at the IRS.
The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents IRS employees, said in a May 16 statement that it supports Cardin's amendment to strike the private debt collection language from the extenders bill.
May 19, 2014
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U.S. Swap Overseers Flirt With Union as Salaries Squeezed (Bloomberg Businessweek)
Fed up with pay packages that are smaller than other financial regulators, some workers at the U.S. agency that oversees the derivatives market have begun discussing whether to join a union.
Colleen Kelley, national president of the union, confirmed in a statement that the group had been contacted by some CFTC workers. The NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 31 federal agencies, Kelley said. Among them are the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
“NTEU is exploring the issue of representation at the CFTC and will provide further information when appropriate,” she said.
May 1, 2014
Lawmakers push bill to stop IRS bonuses (The Hill)
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, furious that the IRS handed out more than $1 million in bonuses to employees delinquent on their own taxes, are pushing legislation to put a stop to those awards.
Still, Koskinen and the NTEU also noted that IRS employees were far better than most at keeping up with their taxes, with the commissioner saying agency staffers have a roughly 99 percent compliance rate.
May 1, 2014
Colleen Kelley, NTEU’s president, added that the union would “work with the IRS on an appropriate plan” for linking performance awards with employee conduct.
May 1, 2014
Congressman: No more bonuses for IRS tax delinquents (USA Today)
A report by Treasury inspectors last week found that 1,146 Internal Revenue Service employees received more than $1 million in bonuses — despite being delinquent on their own taxes.
The president of the union representing most IRS employees said the IRS is already dealing with the issue. “IRS employees take very seriously their responsibility to pay their taxes. IRS employees have a higher rate of tax compliance than any other federal agency, over 99% compliance,” National Treasury Employee Union President Colleen Kelley said in a statement. In fact, she noted, the non-compliance rate for congressional employees is three times higher.
Phased Retirement Is in Regulation Limbo (GovExec)
It’s been almost two years since a law allowing phased retirement for federal employees has been on the books. But the program is still in limbo because the Obama administration has yet to issue final regulations on its implementation.
“I urge OPM to make the phased retirement program available to agencies as soon as possible and, in turn, I hope agencies will move quickly to put the program in place,” said National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley, who noted that the percentage of the retirement-eligible federal workforce is growing and will continue to for the foreseeable future.
May 7, 2014
Delinquent on Your Tax Bills? You Could Soon Get Fired (GovExec)
A Senate committee on Wednesday approved a measure to prohibit “seriously delinquent” taxpayers from federal employment.
The National Treasury Employees Union has called the House legislation unnecessary, saying agencies can already take action against delinquent employees and garnish their wages to collect tax debts.
May 21, 2014
Treasury Has Lowest Federal Agency Tax Delinquency Rate (Tax Notes)
Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., introduced the Stop Wasteful Federal Bonuses Act , which would force federal employees to forgo or return bonuses if they face suspension, termination, or more than one year's imprisonment.
National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley objected, saying that laws and regulations governing those issues are already in place and that more legislation is unnecessary.
May 23, 2014