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Kelley Opposes Proposal To Cut 10 Percent from Federal Workforce

Wednesday, February 6 2013

Washington, D.C.—The president of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) today voiced strong opposition to a congressional proposal to use a significant reduction in the federal workforce to pay for a delay to pending sequestration.

NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley called the joint proposal advanced today by a group of House and Senate members led by Rep. Howard McKeon (R-Calif.) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) “nothing more than a direct attack on the ability of federal agencies to fulfill their missions of service to the American people.”

The legislation contemplates a 10 percent reduction in the federal workforce by hiring one federal employee for every three that leave. The $85 billion in savings from these reductions would be used to replace the sequester for FY 2013.

The measure is similar to legislation introduced in the previous session of Congress. NTEU opposed those bills and they did not pass out of Congress.

Kelley added: “Everyone agrees that sequestration is terrible policy. Plans to implement it on March 1 should be abandoned, but doing so with a 10 percent reduction in the federal workforce is foolhardy and would result in short staffing that could last for a decade.”

Already a number of federal agencies have been operating with reduced budgets and under hiring freezes for some time. “In far too many agencies, staffing already is dangerously low,” President Kelley said.

The Internal Revenue Service, for example, is operating with 5,000 fewer employees than just two years ago—and the 2013 tax-filing season is now getting into high gear; and serious understaffing at U.S. Customs and Border Protection has resulted in extended wait times at border crossings for private vehicles and commercial traffic, Kelley said.

“Cuts of this magnitude would endanger the vital missions of federal agencies,” Kelley said. “Whether safeguarding food and medicines, protecting our borders, monitoring nuclear plants or collecting the revenue, these workers are needed to keep the public safe.”

Moreover, she noted, federal employees already have contributed more than any other group to deficit reduction and economic recovery--$103 billion over 10 years in an ongoing pay freeze since 2011 along with higher pension contributions, with no increase in annuity, from new federal hires. These bills would bring that total to $188 billion.

NTEU is the largest independent federal union, representing 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.

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