Washington, D.C.—Federal employees from around the country joined their allies in Congress outside the U.S. Capitol Thursday to rally in support of the American workforce that delivers vital government services to the public.
Recent threats – such as slashing agency budgets, reducing benefits and weakening job protections -- motivated hundreds of National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) members to draw attention to their concerns.
“In times of change and in times of transition, when everyone at the top is either coming or going, you are the people who keep our great country running, protecting our citizens and safeguarding our nation, never missing a beat,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon, who led the rally. “For that, I thank you.”
More than 350 NTEU members are in Washington this week for the union’s annual Legislative Conference. They walk the halls of Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress and encourage support for fair pay and benefits, adequate agency funding, and workplace fairness.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, (D-MD) told the crowd he would work to make sure “political cronyism” doesn’t infect the civil service system and the protections it provides to federal employees.
“We cannot allow people to target you based on their political agenda,” Van Hollen said.
Rep. Don Beyer, (D-VA), supported NTEU’s calls for a 3.2% pay raise for federal workers, and said they deserve respect, not vilification.
“It breaks my heart… when people say the worst possible things about the people who make this country great,” Beyer said.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, (D-VA), said federal employees are not a “punching bag.”
“We provide services that people in this building count on for their constituents,” Connolly said, pointing to the Capitol behind him.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, (D-NY), promoted her legislation to give federal employees paid parental leave, which NTEU strongly supports.
“I have federal employees call me and ask me about the timing of the passage of my bill so they can time the birth of their child because they can’t afford to give up their pay,” Maloney said.
Rep. Donald McEachin, (D-VA) said the government needs to remain responsive to the public and cutting the workforce would interfere with that service.
“There is nothing worse for my constituents than to get a busy signal,” McEachin said. “We need you all.”
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, (D-MD), said federal employees deserve respect.
“For years you’ve taken it on the chin, and that has to stop,” he said.
Rep. Bobby Scott, (D-VA), said he was especially concerned about legislative proposals that would weaken bargaining rights for unions.
“Congress should be in the business of making it easier for people to work in government service,” Scott said.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, (D-MD), also attended the NTEU rally, which was held on the Capitol lawn across from the U.S. Supreme Court.
NTEU represents 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.