The Month in Media
"Federal employees are not chits to be traded but real human beings who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect."
Hoyer to Union: Lawmakers Shouldn't Use 'Bureaucrat as an Epithet', GovExec, Feb. 23, 2016
NTEU's legislative agenda dominated media coverage as President Tony Reardon announced the union's priority issues for the year. The 2016 Legislative Conference was covered by a range of media outlets, including national publications like the Washington Post and Politico. NTEU's push for more funding for federal agencies and Reardon's views on the administration's budget for the next fiscal year also made headlines.
January and February Headlines
• NTEU strongly supports legislation that would give federal employees the first meaningful pay raise in years. Read the clips»
• Members convene in Washington to advance federal employee issues as NTEU's annual Legislative Conference. Read the clips »
• With the tax filing season underway, NTEU advocates for more IRS funding so the agency can help taxpayers who need it. Read the clips »
• The president's fiscal 2017 budget blueprint is out, and it includes a much-needed funding boost for agencies and paid parental leave. Read the clips »
• A fair pay increase and safeguarding federal health and retirement benefits are among NTEU's legislative priorities for 2016. Read the clips »
• NTEU voices concern over a plan that could threaten IRS customer service and other news. Read the clips »
Bill Would Give Federal Employees a 5.3 Pay Raise in 2017 (Government Executive)
Federal employees would receive an across-the-board pay raise of 5.3 percent next year under a Democratic-sponsored bill introduced Tuesday....Tony Reardon, National Treasury Employees Union president, said on Tuesday during the union's annual legislative conference that while the bill's prospects are "not a lot," NTEU "will bust our tails to make it happen."
Even the (administration's) proposed 1.6 percent raise (for next year) "could be blocked by Congress if we are not vocal and vigilant," he said.
(Feb. 24, 2016)
Connolly drops bill to provide a 5.3 percent pay increase in 2017 (cyberFEDS)
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., has filed a bill that would provide federal employees with a 5.3 percent pay increase next year.
...NTEU President Tony Reardon told cyberFEDS that he has had lots of conversations with federal employees where they say the meager pay raises--a cumulative 3.3 percent over the last six years--and the way they are treated by Congress seriously makes them consider leaving federal service.
He said that while a similar attempt by Connolly last year was unsuccessful, NTEU is going to "bust our tails" to make sure it happens this year because "federal employees deserve a raise."
(Feb. 24, 2016)
Connolly's new FAIR Act proposes 5.3 percent raise for feds (Federal Times)
Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., dropped his much-anticipated new Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act on Feb. 23, proposing a 5.3 percent raise for all federal employees in 2017.
...The bill has unsurprisingly won broad endorsement from 31 federal employee unions and associations, including AFGE, National Treasury Employees Union, National Association for Active and Retired Federal Employees, National Association of Letter Carriers, National Federation of Federal Employees and others.
(Feb. 24, 2016)
Should federal pay increase? If so, how much? (Washington Post)
National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon also complained about a raise that "does little to overcome several years of pay freezes and below-market increases," but he did praise Obama's call for six weeks of paid parental leave for federal workers.
(Feb. 24, 2016)
Back to the Future State (Politico)
Tony Reardon, the National Treasury Employees Union president, said Tuesday that he is worried the IRS's efforts to move more offerings online could end up leaving too many taxpayers behind.
Reardon's concerns echo those of Nina Olson, the national taxpayer advocate who held her first public forum on the IRS "Future State" initiative on Tuesday.
Reardon, addressing union members on Tuesday, acknowledged that many of them are "tired" and "disheartened" by continued attacks on their work, including from GOP lawmakers.
"That's where a lot of our energy, unfortunately, has to be focused right now, is on dealing with those attacks," Reardon told reporters later.
The union chief also outlined an agenda for this year that is largely defensive in nature -- protecting collective bargaining rights, health care programs and retirement systems.
(Feb. 24, 2106)
NTEU Holds its Annual Legislative Conference (WJLA-TV; ABC Affiliate)
NewsChannel8, which is now part of Washington, D.C.'s WJLA-TV, aired a brief segment announcing that NTEU kicked off its 2016 Legislative Conference. View the segment
(Feb. 25, 2016)
Hoyer to Union: Lawmakers Shouldn't Use 'Bureaucrat as an Epithet' (Government Executive)
The Maryland Democrat brought 350 members of the National Treasury Employees Union to their feet as he told their annual Washington legislative conference that "nothing makes me angry like hearing a member on the floor of the House use bureaucrat as an epithet."
...In praising Hoyer's past advocacy for "fair pay, secure retirement, lower health costs and collective bargaining rights," Reardon said, "Federal employees are not chits to be traded but real human beings who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect."
The attacks on federal workers "have not let up, and I expect they will get more intense as the election gets closer," he added.
(Feb. 23, 2016)
NTEU rallies for grassroots movement to boost federal pay, change political dynamics (Federal News Radio)
In a tumultuous election year, the National Treasury Employees Union is encouraging its members to go out and vote-- for candidates who will protect their federal pay, benefits and collective bargaining rights.
"Everything about your working lives is decided by those who are elected to national office: your pay, your retirement benefits, your agency's funding, who runs your agency, whether or not your job will be contracted out and whether or not you will maintain collective bargaining rights," NTEU National President Tony Reardon said during the union's 2016 legislative conference in Washington Feb. 23.
"Here is a very scary and sobering fact: Right now, all of those things are in jeopardy."
(Feb. 23, 2016)
Union Leader Says He Has Good Relationship with IRS Chief (Government Executive)
The employees union at the Internal Revenue Service enjoys solid communication with the agency's commissioner, welcomes technological advances if appropriately applied and hopes to rebuild IRS' shrunken workforce, according to National Treasury Employees Union National President Tony Reardon.
In a session with reporters on Tuesday during the 150,000-member union's annual legislative conference in Washington, Reardon said Internal Revenue Commissioner John Koskinen has tried to be fairer to IRS employees.
"He has the IRS' best interest at heart," Reardon said. "And he thinks highly of IRS employees, as he makes clear in the media when he goes to bat for them on Capitol Hill. I have a good working relationship with him, but let's face it, he has an agency to run, and I lead a union. We don't always see eye to eye. He works hard to run the agency well, but he has set of factors and data I don't have."
(Feb. 24, 2016)
NTEU Confident in Face of IT Changes, Aging Workforce at IRS (Tax Notes Today)
The National Treasury Employees Union sees opportunity in greater automation and an aging workforce at the IRS, union leaders, including President Tony Reardon, said February 23 ...Meeting with reporters after a union member rally in Washington as part of NTEU's legislative conference, Reardon expressed optimism that a trend toward automating taxpayer services, reflected in the IRS's "future state" vision, would not translate into fewer IRS employees.
(Feb. 24, 2016)
Free Help for Tax Returns (New York Times)
Taxpayers have several options for getting free help to prepare and send their income tax return during this year's filing season, which began on Tuesday.
...The I.R.S. has said that added funding for customer service should help reduce telephone waiting times from last year, when tight budgets resulted in service described by the National Taxpayer Advocate as "by far the worst in memory." During the 2015 tax season, the agency was able to answer only 37 percent of calls, and callers who managed to get through waited an average of 23 minutes.
This year, although there is more money for customer service, it's still less than needed, according to Anthony M. Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union. Taxpayers, he said in a prepared statement, "should still brace themselves for dropped calls, extended hold times and long lines."
The IRS has improved but still provides bad customer service (Washington Post)
From the customer care the Internal Revenue Service provides, you wouldn't know it collects $3.3 trillion every year.
Even with some improvements this year following a $290 million budget increase, the IRS continues to leave taxpayers and its own employees frustrated with the agency's inability to deliver an acceptable level of service.... David Snider, a National Treasury Employees Union chapter president in Portland, Ore., said wait times for callers to his office can range from 30 to 60 minutes.
Staffing shortages also create problems for walk-in taxpayers seeking assistance at local offices.
(Feb. 24, 2016)
Obama bequeaths praise legacy, but little money, to feds in his final budget (Washington Post)
In the last budget proposal of Barack Obama's presidency, he bequeathed his workforce strong words of praise, even if he couldn't leave them much money.
...Still, even as federal workers demand a much larger increase, the National Treasury Employees Union said the "budget would begin to repair the damage caused by past spending cuts, make much-needed investments to help federal workers better serve the public and stands in sharp contrast to recent congressional leadership plans to slash the federal workforce and reduce spending on the backs of federal employees."
(Feb. 11, 2016)
Obama Would Hike IRS Budget by 9 Percent (Government Executive)
Fresh off a $290 million increase in last fall's two-year budget deal, the Internal Revenue Service would receive a 9 percent hike under President Obama's fiscal 2017 budget.
...That view drew backing from testimony submitted by the National Treasury Employees Union, whose national president, Tony Reardon, said the administration's "funding proposal would enable the IRS to improve taxpayer services, combat identity theft and better enforce the federal tax code. Every dollar invested in IRS enforcement programs, NTEU reiterated, generates about $6 in increased revenues.
"Yet, because of budget cuts, the agency collected less revenue through enforcement efforts last year--$54.2 billion--than in fiscal 2007, when it brought in $59.2 billion," Reardon said.
The union also mentioned long wait times for taxpayers who call for assistance or visit understaffed taxpayer assistance centers.
Timely assistance over the phone or in person is of particular importance for victims of identity theft and other types of refund fraud, the NTEU leader said.
"These cases are extremely complex cases to resolve and can be very frustrating for victims."
(Feb. 10, 2016)
Satisfaction with federal government services hits new low (Federal News Radio)
Public satisfaction with federal government services fell to another all-time low in 2015, according the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
...National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon said the bad news is hardly surprising, given the IRS' longstanding budget and staffing problems.
"It's disappointing but hardly surprising that the Treasury Department, which includes the Internal Revenue Service, scored lower than other federal agencies," Reardon said in an email. "Congress has slashed the IRS budget by $1.2 billion since 2010, resulting in a loss of 18,000 employees, which is why that agency has struggled to provide the level of customer service people need and expect. The IRS is getting a small funding increase -- $290 million -- in fiscal year 2016, which is likely to improve the agency's taxpayer services a bit. But the extra funding is nowhere close to what the IRS needs to provide the level of customer service it provided in the years before Congress went on a budget-cutting spree."
(Feb. 2, 2016)
Despite Added Funding, Dim Portrait of IRS Aid (Chief-Leader)
This tax-filing season probably won't be fun if you need help from the Internal Revenue Service, if recent experience is any indication.
The National Treasury Employees Union last month predicted some improvement after Congress boosted the agency's budget by 2.5 percent, but warned taxpayers to "brace themselves for dropped calls, extended hold times and long lines."
NTEU offered a list of tips for taxpayers to avoid the aggravation they've been reporting in recent years, as IRS staff and services have been whittled down to save money.
...NTEU President Tony Reardon predicted more difficulties ahead for customers.
"The IRS still has a long way to go to rebuild its workforce so it can provide taxpayers with the level of customer service they need and deserve," he said in a statement. "The IRS was devastated by the loss of 18,000 employees and budget cuts totaling $1.2 billion between 2010 and 2015. While the extra $290 million will help, the truth is the IRS won't be able to hire as many employees as it needs to do a thorough and efficient job of helping taxpayers understand and comply with the Federal tax code."
The union suggested that taxpayers, especially those with complicated returns, contact the IRS long before tax time, when the wait will be shorter. It warned customers that some walk-in centers have switched to appointment-only systems to avoid long waits in person, as well. It also reminded people to meticulously check figures and sign returns, because mistakes can prompt further delays and fees.
(Feb. 1, 2016)
IRS phone service has left taxpayers on hold (Baltimore Sun)
The Internal Revenue Service, which saw its workforce dwindle steadily from 2010 to 2015, says a modest budget increase has left it better equipped to respond to the tens of millions of Americans expected to call with questions during the just-opened tax season.
...The IRS budget rose by $290 million, or 3 percent, this year. The agency says the increase should help customer service. The IRS expects to receive more than 150 million individual returns this year.
Even with the budget increase, taxpayers who need agency help are being advised to get their questions in early.
"Taxpayers to face challenges in 2016" is the headline of a recent news release from the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents IRS employees and others.
"Taxpayers can expect some improvement in 2016," said union President Tony Reardon, "but they should still brace themselves for dropped calls, extended hold times and long lines."
(Jan. 30, 2016)
IRS Kicks Off Tax Season (Accounting Today)
The Internal Revenue Service launched the tax-filing season Tuesday, promising better taxpayer and practitioner service, although a labor union official representing IRS employees warned there could still be problems.
...The National Treasury Employees Union said the $290 million funding boost for the IRS represents a good first step, but warned that there could still be problems this tax season.
"The IRS still has a long way to go to rebuild its workforce so it can provide taxpayers with the level of customer service they need and deserve," said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. "The IRS was devastated by the loss of 18,000 employees and budget cuts totaling $1.2 billion between 2010 and 2015. While the extra $290 million will help, the truth is the IRS won't be able to hire as many employees as it needs to do a thorough and efficient job of helping taxpayers understand and comply with the federal tax code."
(Jan. 19, 2016)
Obama's Budget Proposes 1.6% Raise, 6 Weeks Paid Parental Leave for Federal Workforce (FedSmith.com)
The White House released the president's budget proposal for 2017 today, and it contains some important proposals for federal employees.
...AFGE is already on the record as wanting a 5.3% raise, and the National Treasury Employees Union said that the raise does little to narrow the gap between federal employees and the private sector.
(Feb. 9, 2016).
Obama's Budget Touts Progress Within Federal Workforce, but Offers Nothing New (Government Executive)
President Obama in his fiscal 2017 budget unveiled Tuesday touted his administration's improvement of the performance and morale of the federal workforce, but offered very little in the way of new initiatives to build upon those efforts. ...
"This budget makes strategic and practical investments that will provide federal employees with the resources they need to execute their missions," said Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.
(Feb. 9, 2016)
Obama's final budget proposal includes efforts to strengthen federal workforce (cyberFEDS)
The Obama administration's FY 2017 budget proposal seeks to improve federal workforce management, performance, and morale.
...National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon said it "would begin to repair the damage caused by past spending cuts, make much-needed investments to help federal workers better serve the public and stands in sharp contrast to recent congressional leadership plans to slash the federal workforce and reduce spending on the backs of federal employees."
(Feb. 9, 2016)
Obama's 'Dead on Arrival' 2017 Budget Offers IRS 9 Percent Boost (Tax Notes Today)
President Obama's last budget proposal seeks $12.28 billion for the IRS in fiscal 2017, which would be a 9 percent boost from what Congress for the agency for fiscal 2016.
...The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) hailed that budget request.
"This budget makes strategic and practical investments that will provide federal employees with the resources they need to execute their missions," NTEU President Tony Reardon said in a statement.
But the union said the proposal for a 1.6 percent federal employee pay raise "falls far too short."
After losing $1.2 billion in funding from fiscal 2010 through fiscal 2015, the IRS still lacks the resources to resume hiring to replace some of the 18,000 workers lost during the five-year budget squeeze, the NTEU said.
"I urge Congress to give the IRS the resources it needs to serve taxpayers, crack down on identity theft and continue collecting more than 90 percent of federal revenue, which pays for virtually all other programs and services the American people need and deserve," Reardon said.
(Feb. 9, 2016)
Obama proposes 1.6 percent pay raise for federal, military personnel (Federal News Radio)
President Barack Obama's 2017 budget will include a 1.6 percent pay increase for military and civilian federal personnel.
The proposal will be included in the federal budget, which is due out Feb. 8, an administration official said.
News of the proposal was met with cool reactions from employees unions.
In a statement from National Treasury Employees Union National President Tony Reardon, he said the proposed raise "is too low and does little to overcome several years of pay freezes and below-market increases."
"Federal employees deliver for this country every day and their contributions must be recognized with adequate pay," Reardon said. "A 1.6 pay raise won't significantly narrow the growing gap between private sector and federal pay or help middle class federal employees adequately cope with rising costs. Without a fair pay increase, the federal-private pay gap will continue to grow and federal agencies will find it harder and harder to recruit and retain talented workers. Federal employees have contributed billions of dollars to deficit reduction. It is time to recognize the value these employees bring to our country."
(Feb. 3, 2016)
Obama Will Propose 1.6 Percent Pay Raise for Feds and Troops in 2017 Budget (Government Executive)
President Obama will propose a 1.6 percent across-the-board pay raise for federal civilian and military personnel for 2017.
An administration official on Wednesday confirmed the proposed figure, which will be included in Obama's fiscal 2017 budget. The White House will release the fiscal 2017 budget on Tuesday.
Federal civilian workers and service members received a 1.3 percent pay boost for 2016. Check out this chart showing civilian and military pay raises over the years.
The National Treasury Employees Union on Wednesday said the proposed 1.6 percent pay increase for fiscal 2017 is "too low and does little to overcome several years of pay freezes and below-market increases."
NTEU also said in a statement that the administration's fiscal 2017 budget will support legislation giving federal employees up to six weeks of paid parental leave. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, have introduced bills that would do that.
(Feb. 3, 2016)
Unions blast proposed 2017 fed pay raise (Federal Times)
Federal employee unions are already feeling underwhelmed by the 2017 federal budget.
In anticipation of a 1.6 proposed pay raise for federal employees expected with the Feb. 9 budget, presidents from the National Treasury Employees Union and the American Federation of Government Employees came out blasting a pay bump they deemed meager.
"A 1.6 pay raise won't significantly narrow the growing gap between private-sector and federal pay or help middle-class federal employees adequately cope with rising costs," said NTEU president Tony Reardon, in a statement.
"Without a fair pay increase, the federal-private pay gap will continue to grow and federal agencies will find it harder and harder to recruit and retain talented workers. Federal employees have contributed billions of dollars to deficit reduction. It is time to recognize the value these employees bring to our country."
(Feb. 4, 2016)
Better pay, workplace rights among top congressional priorities for feds (Washington Post)
Federal employees are in the midst of a legislative season in which they are struggling with friend and foe alike, on issues ranging from pay to an attack on unions in their sector where membership is the strongest.
...National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon called the bill "a cynical attempt to undermine and ultimately destroy federal unions and prevent federal employees who voluntarily joined a union from having effective representation.
...Preventing union dues from being deducted would save zero money and has only one purpose â€“ to reduce union membership."
...It is the height of irony for a member of Congress to change the standard for union recognition from 50 percent of ‘those who cast ballots' to 50 percent of all eligible voters in a bargaining unit," said Reardon.
"Congressional elections are often decided with anemic numbers of eligible voters participating.
...Clearly, this is just another attempt to limit union representation."
(Feb. 7, 2016)
Election Year May Give Federal Workers Some Relief from Congress (Bloomberg BNA)
Federal employees may get a reprieve in 2016 from congressional attacks on their pay and benefits as lawmakers prepare for an election year.
...Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, agreed with Palguta's legislative forecast for the year ahead. "Typically, in an election year, you don't tend to see that much action," Reardon told Bloomberg BNA Jan. 6. "I have no reason to believe that 2016 will be any different."
However, Reardon wasn't as optimistic regarding employee engagement in the federal workforce. "Federal employee morale remains incredibly low," he said. "People shouldn't be surprised--there have been
inadequate pay increases for federal workers and inadequate funding for agencies."
(Jan. 19, 2016)
IRS future vision plan creates ‘pay-to-play' climate for taxpayers (Federal News Radio)
The Internal Revenue Service's plan to address a mounting workload with shrinking resources could have chilling effects on its relationship with its most important customer: the American taxpayer. In its 2015 annual report to Congress, the National Taxpayer Advocate warned that the IRS needs to weigh the consequences of implementing a number of proposed service changes in its "future state vision."
...In a statement from National Treasury Employees Union, National President Tony Reardon said the organization was concerned about "the impact on voluntary compliance levels of any further decline in the ability of taxpayers to interact with trained personnel."
"[Olson's] report underscores how important it is for taxpayers who have questions to be able to interact with trained and knowledgeable IRS employees. Improving the IRS' online offerings is important, but online assistance is no substitute for telephone or face-to-face contact when taxpayers who are trying to be compliant have questions regarding our very complex tax code," Reardon said. "The bottom line is this:
Taxpayers who contact the IRS to meet their tax obligations should have their questions answered by knowledgeable IRS employees in a timely manner."
(Jan. 7, 2016)
IRS Tech Plans Could Create 'Class System' in Taxpayer Services (Tax Notes Today)
The IRS's drive to replace personal interactions with taxpayers with technology, along with the imposition of new and expanded user fees, threatens to create a "pay to play" agency that could leave millions of taxpayers in the lurch, according to the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS).
...the National Treasury Employees Union, in a statement, seconded the taxpayer advocate's report. "Improving the IRS' online offerings is important, but online assistance is no substitute for telephone or face-to-face contact when taxpayers who are trying to be compliant have questions regarding our very complex tax code," said NTEU President Tony Reardon.
(Jan. 7, 2016)
San Francisco EPA Workers Claim Office Is a 'Sick Building' (KNTV; NBC Affiliate)
Testing showed elevated levels of two potentially dangerous chemicals, formaldehyde and caprolactam, on several floors of 75 Hawthorne in San Francisco, the headquarters of EPA Region 9. ...Of the 139 employees who filled it out, 64 percent reported feeling sick after renovations began.
"We have about 600 people in our building," said Patrick Chan, the union president of NTEU Chapter 295. "When they came to me, they were really, really concerned. The union feels you shouldn't come to work and get sick." Watch the segment
(Feb. 23, 2016)
New bill could undo some federal union representation practices (Federal News Radio)
Federal union members could see some big changes to their labor representation practices if a new bill from House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) passes.
The Federal Employee Rights Act, a draft of which Federal News Radio obtained, would undo several longstanding provisions in the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, which Congress passed in conjunction with the Civil Service Reform Act in 1978. Price is expected to introduce the bill Feb. 4.
...The National Treasury Employees Union said the bill ignores the other allotments that agencies already deduct from employees' paychecks, such as charity donations and college savings.
"Preventing union dues from being deducted would save zero money and has only one purpose -- to reduce union membership," NTEU President Tony Reardon said in a statement.
The bill's suggested voting procedures also make little sense, both AFGE and NTEU argue.
"It is the height of irony for a member of Congress to change the standard for union recognition from 50 percent of ‘those who cast ballots' to 50 percent of all eligible voters in a bargaining unit," Reardon said. "Congressional elections are often decided with anemic numbers of eligible voters participating."
(Feb. 3, 2016)