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NTEU Leader Calls on President Obama to Reject Latest Republican Proposal Attacking Federal Employees

Thursday, May 31 2012

Washington, D.C. — The leader of the nation’s largest independent federal union today asked President Obama to reject a proposal by Republican congressional leadership seeking to increase retirement contributions of middle class federal employees to pay for a one-year extension of reduced student loan interest rates.

“As you know, current employees are in the second year of a pay freeze that is generating $60 billion in savings,” National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) President Colleen M. Kelley wrote in a letter to the president. “In addition, pension contribution increases amounting to $15 billion in additional revenue were recently enacted to offset a temporary extension of unemployment benefits. Federal employees have done more than their share to help address our budget shortfalls; shortfalls that were not caused by them.”

Via letter, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) proposed increasing current employee contributions to the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employee Retirement System by 1.2 percent over the next three years to pay for a one-year extension of the reduced interest rate for subsidized Stafford student loans.

“While we have not always agreed with your budget proposals, you have consistently pushed for balanced proposals that require burdens to be broadly shared,” Kelley said. “On the other hand, the House and Senate Republican leadership has sought to single out the federal workforce as virtually the only source of acceptable spending cuts and revenue increases.”

Moreover, Kelley noted this is not the first time Republican leadership has singled out federal employees as they have also proposed using federal employee staffing and compensation reductions as offsets for payroll tax cuts, unemployment benefit extensions, highway funding, sequestration avoidance, debt ceiling increases and deficit reduction.

“Despite the two-year pay freeze, repeated last minute reprieves from government shutdowns, near constant Congressional efforts to cut their jobs, pay and benefits and staffing reductions that make it extremely difficult to execute their agencies’ missions, federal employees have continued to perform their work with commitment and dedication,” Kelley wrote.

The NTEU leader added: “We urge you not to follow the Republican leadership’s suggestion to once again use the federal workforce as a scapegoat by cutting their compensation to offset an extension of student loan interest rate reductions.”

NTEU represents 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.

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