Washington, D.C.—The leader of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) today applauded the re-election of President Barack Obama.
“NTEU supported the re-election of President Obama as being in the best interests of our country and of the dedicated men and women of the federal workforce,” said NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley. “NTEU is also pleased that so many of our candidates for Senate seats and our staunchest supporters in the House won their races.”
NTEU’s efforts on behalf of President Obama and key candidates spanned the country. “Our 2012 election plan has been in place since the beginning of the year,” said President Kelley. “Many chapters and members were actively involved educating and organizing various types of activities around the country including candidate nights and volunteering for campaigns.”
NTEU’s efforts focused on battleground states where races for the presidency, Senate and House seats were competitive and where the union has substantial numbers of NTEU members including Virginia, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana.
In the days before the election, NTEU members volunteered for phone-banking and canvassing, with a particular focus on contacting other NTEU members and urging them to vote for candidates who support federal employees and federal employee issues.
“Federal employees heard our message loud and clear that everything about the lives of the federal workforce is determined by those elected to office,” said Kelley.
Unlike his opponent in the presidential election, Kelley said, the president is keenly aware of the risks to the effective delivery of vital government services posed by proposals to sharply reduce the federal workforce and cut the budgets of federal agencies.
“In a very real sense, these are make-or-break issues for our country,” Kelley said. “Federal agencies simply must have the resources and personnel they need to carry out their missions,” she added, noting the effective work of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the wake of the storm that battered the east coast in late October.
With Congress reconvening next week, the NTEU leader emphasized that the union will now focus its immediate attention on the interests of federal employees as the lame-duck session of Congress prepares to address key financial issues, including avoiding sequestration.
The NTEU leader said the union “will move forward aggressively” with its efforts to ensure the federal civilian pay raise planned for next April be made retroactive to the start of 2013. Moreover, she said, NTEU will focus on securing appropriations bills that ensure sufficient agency resources, as well as continuing its efforts to see that the work of the government stays in the hands of trained, accountable federal employees.
Most immediately is the issue of sequestration, tax cuts and related financial matters that together make up the fiscal cliff facing Congress and the nation in January. Proposals to address the cliff have the potential to adversely impact federal workers in meaningful and negative ways, including their pay and pensions.
At present, agencies continue to face significant budget pressures under a September continuing resolution (CR) providing for little more than the insufficient fiscal 2012 funding through next March.
“It would be harmful to our nation if federal employees and their agencies are looked to for further cuts, including higher contributions to employee pensions and severe budget cuts, in light of the significant contributions they already are making,” she said.
As a result of the current two-year pay freeze—continued through March in the CR—as well as increased pension contributions from new hires, federal workers are contributing more than $75 billion to deficit reduction over 10 years. That is far more than any other group, President Kelley said.
Longer term, the NTEU leader said she is looking forward to working with the Obama administration and Congress on such important issues as getting federal pay raises back on track, capping federal reimbursement of contractor executive salaries; and restricting operations of pharmacy benefit managers to help bring down the costs of prescription medicines for federal employees.
Moving forward, Kelley said “NTEU will look to the new Congress convening in January to find members on both sides of the aisle, in both the House and Senate, we can work with on issues critical not only to federal employees and their agencies, but impacting the public through the ability of government to provide the vital services the American people expect and deserve.”
As the largest independent federal union, NTEU represents 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.