Washington, D.C.—The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) will both bargain with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over potential furlough days stemming from sequestration and work with the agency to find cost savings that could head off the unpaid workdays, NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley said today.
“The IRS is projecting between five and seven furlough days beginning sometime this summer,” President Kelley said. “We have had informal discussions with the agency about this matter and we will engage in bargaining when the formal notice of furlough is provided.”
Federal employees generally are entitled to 30 days’ formal notice prior to furlough. The IRS today sent a message to all of its employees and to NTEU concerning sequestration and its potential impacts. Along with the possibility of furloughs later this year, the agency said it would continue to operate under a hiring freeze for grants and other expenditures, and cut costs in other areas such as travel, training, facilities and supplies.
“None of these developments is good for the agency, for employees or for taxpayers,” President Kelley said, underscoring NTEU’s determination to work to have sequestration cancelled, in the event it takes place starting tomorrow. “IRS employees are middle class workers who have had their pay frozen for over two years. Those furloughs will hurt their ability to pay their bills and serve the public.”
NTEU-represented employees from the IRS have been in Washington this week as part of the union’s 2013 Legislative Conference. For three days, they have been on Capitol Hill telling members of Congress about the devastating impact of sequestration.
In an NTEU survey of its members, 82 percent of more than 2,200 respondents said the loss of pay due to a furlough would result in difficulty for them paying their rent or mortgage, utility bills and food expenses. Moreover, 43 percent said the lengthy pay freeze has led them to delay medical treatment in order to save money.
“IRS employees, and indeed all federal workers, are in an untenable situation not of their own making,” the NTEU leader said. “Given previous budget cuts, the IRS is operating this filing season with 5,000 fewer employees than just two years ago. Now, IRS employees face potential furloughs and the loss of pay for a week or more; and all federal workers are continuing to function under the threat of at least a partial government shutdown when the current continuing resolution expires on March 27. This is incredibly unfair to them and to the public.”
NTEU is the largest independent federal union, representing 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.