Washington D.C. – A holiday season government shutdown is particularly cruel for federal employees especially if it is followed close behind by a freeze in their pay for 2019, NTEU National President Tony Reardon told Congress today.
In a letter sent to House and Senate leaders Tuesday morning, Reardon urged Congress to avoid a lapse in appropriations and finish the work it started on providing the men and women of the civil service a modest pay increase next year.
“Many frontline employees face a possible third shutdown for 2018 with renewed work, scheduling and pay uncertainty as we head into the holidays,” Reardon wrote. “Whether they are to be furloughed 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 also highlighted the union’s concerns about how a shutdown would impact the IRS, where 88 percent of the workforce would be furloughed just before the start of the 2019 filing season. IRS employees are currently being trained on the massive changes in the tax code and need time and resources to be ready to handle inquiries from individual taxpayers and businesses.
If the President had not proposed a pay freeze, the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act would have called for a 2.1 percent increase for federal employees in 2019. The Senate already approved a 1.9 percent increase, which NTEU believes should be included in whatever funding agreement is reached for the remainder of the fiscal year. If not, it would be the ninth straight year of either freezes or below-market raises.
“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.
Reardon’s letter was sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.