Washington D.C. – Congress has a chance to end 2018 on a high note by preventing a partial government shutdown and approving a pay raise for federal employees for 2019, National Treasury Employees Union National President Tony Reardon said Tuesday.
In a letter sent to every member of the House and Senate, Reardon urged lawmakers to finish the fiscal year 2019 spending bills before the Dec. 7 deadline. If not, many government agencies will close their doors and federal employees in every state will face scheduling and pay uncertainty.
"Whether they are to be furloughed and sent home or asked to continue to report to duty, these employees would go unpaid during a lapse in appropriations and would require congressional action to ensure they are paid once agencies are back to operating normally," Reardon wrote. "While there is never a good time to go without pay, for many who will celebrate holidays next month with family, there is no worse time."
A shutdown would affect thousands of frontline federal employees represented by NTEU, including those at the IRS, Customs and Border Protection, the Environmental Protection Agency, portions of the Food and Drug Administration, the National Park Service and many others.
The IRS is ramping up to open the 2019 tax filing season and implement the largest overhaul to the tax code in 30 years, so a shutdown would be particularly disruptive to IRS employees, businesses and taxpayers.
Reardon also encouraged Congress to reject the president's proposed pay freeze and finish its work on a 2019 increase for federal employees. NTEU supports the Senate-approved 1.9 percent increase but also believes that non-defense federal workers should receive the same 2.6 percent increase already approved for military personnel.
"Like all American workers and middle-class taxpayers, federal employees face ever-increasing costs of living, with rising utility, food and health care bills, along with school loan and rent or mortgage obligations," Reardon wrote. "Like all employees, federal employees deserve an employer who values their work and their ongoing contributions to improve our nation, and who does not forget them no matter the season."
NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.