Washington, D.C.—In the face of fiscal cliff legislation addressing major tax issues but leaving other critical matters to be dealt with later this spring, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) will keep up its strong efforts to ensure that federal workers have the resources they need to meet the expectations of the public, the union’s president said today.
“The fiscal cliff bill delays, but does not end, the severe threats posed by sequestration,” said NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley. “If federal agencies and their employees do not have the resources and tools they need, the public that depends on them will suffer.”
The fiscal cliff legislation delayed the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts called for under sequestration until March 1.
“Whether it is helping secure our nation’s borders, making sure our food supply is safe, or taking on any of the other many tasks that directly help improve the quality of life for all Americans,” President Kelley said, “federal workers cannot do their jobs without adequate resources. Our intention is to continue drawing the straight line between the needs of their agencies for appropriate resources and the positive outcomes the public wants and needs.” It is a high priority for NTEU and federal employees that they can continue to do the job our country has asked of them, Kelley added.
The NTEU leader noted a positive element of the fiscal cliff bill for many federal employees—the inclusion of NTEU-supported language reinstating parity between the transit and parking segments of the commuter benefit. The transit benefit, which had fallen substantially behind that for parking, will now match the parking benefit at $240 per month. This new level reinstates transit and parking benefit parity through 2013, and allows for the benefit to be retroactive to January 1, 2012.
Congress had failed to extend the transit benefit prior to the end of 2011; as a result, the maximum monthly benefit for this portion of the commuter subsidy fell to $125 a month for all of 2012. NTEU has been working diligently to restore the parity, including providing congressional testimony and writing to every member of Congress highlighting the importance of the mass transit benefit to the many thousands of federal employees who use public transportation to and from work. “I am pleased to see this very positive step,” Kelley said.
She noted, as well, that to date, no group has contributed as much to the nation’s fiscal recovery as have federal workers. Their contributions from the continuing two-year pay freeze and higher pension contributions from new employees totals $103 billion over the next 10 years.
“The next few months will require close attention as the debt ceiling limit must be extended and the sequester is set to begin on March 1,” President Kelley said. “NTEU will continue to fight to prevent further federal employee pay and benefit cuts as Congress works on pending debt ceiling and sequester issues.”
NTEU represents 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.