Philadelphia, Pa. – Hundreds of federal employees from the Philadelphia area, along with their allies in Congress, spent their lunch time today rallying for workplace rights, fair pay and a secure retirement.
The rally was sponsored by the National Treasury Employees Union Chapters 22 (IRS Philadelphia) and 71 (IRS Philadelphia Campus) and featured rousing messages of support from union leaders, including National President Tony Reardon.
“When Americans gather, it is because that right is guaranteed in the documents drafted and signed just down the street,” Reardon said at the outdoor rally near 30th Street Station. “It means that you care. You care about this country. You care about your job. You care about your future.”
Federal employees from Pennsylvania and New Jersey urged Congress to reject the president’s pay freeze and instead approve a 3 percent raise for federal workers in 2019. They also protested efforts to slash the retirement benefits they rightfully earned after years of dedicated public service.
“Frontline federal workers are regular middle-class Americans trying to get by, just like everyone else,” said Horatio Fenton, president of NTEU Chapter 22, which represents IRS employees. “We joined the civil service because we wanted to serve our country, and it’s demoralizing when elected officials in Washington don’t honor and respect that service. This rally today shows we have the commitment and the courage to fight for what is right.”
The employees were joined by Rep. Brandon Boyle (D-PA), Robert Brady (D-PA) and Rep. Donald Norcross, (D-NJ), all of whom have strong pro-labor records in Congress.
“NTEU is honored to stand with these elected officials who value the work we do every day with tax collection, processing tax returns and assisting taxpayers around the country,” said NTEU Chapter 71 President Cheryl Brewer. “But we also need their help to make sure Congress provides the IRS with the resources and personnel we need to get the job done.”
The IRS has lost $715 million and 22,000 full-time employees since 2010, a deficit that has weakened taxpayer assistance programs and enforcement capabilities.
Other NTEU chapters that attended include Chapter 56 (IRS Delaware), 60 (IRS New Jersey), 68 (IRS Andover Campus), 161 (CBP Newark), and 232 (HHS Philadelphia).
The employees also voiced concerns about the president’s executive orders that attack federal workers and their union representatives.
“This is not a drill. The threats to federal employees are real. We’re already seeing agencies try to use these orders to take away basic workplace practices such as telework and alternative work schedules,” Reardon said. “These orders are an attempt to turn back the clock to a civil service that is based on patronage and favoritism, instead of merit and professionalism, and that offers outdated workplaces. We cannot let that happen.”
NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.