Improving federal pay is our top priority. Federal workers have already done more than their fair share to reduce the federal deficit by contributing billions of dollars through the three-year pay freeze and making other sacrifices. On Capitol Hill and in the media, NTEU continues to support locality pay and make a strong case that federal pay lags behind private-sector pay.
We also make sure federal employees receive proper overtime compensation and have won millions in back pay for federal employees denied their rightful pay. Not afraid to take on anyone, NTEU won $533 million in back pay after President Nixon deferred the 1972 federal pay raise for three months.
NTEU has always fought for a well-funded and secure retirement system for federal employees who have spent their careers devoted to public service. We worked closely with Congress to create the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), which covers those hired after 1984. The FERS legislation also established the federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), modeled after private-sector 401(k) plans. Since the TSP’s inception, NTEU has fought to improve it and expand investment options available to federal employees.
NTEU also is a fierce defender of federal-employee retirement benefits and fights repeated efforts on Capitol Hill to gut them. We have successfully fought against proposals to weaken FERS by changing benefit formulas and ending the annuity portion, and are urging Congress to eliminate higher employee pension contributions for new hires.
Agency Funding and Sequestration
NTEU is a strong advocate for adequate funding levels for federal agencies. Absent sufficient resources, federal agencies and their employees cannot fulfill their public-service missions. Period.
That is why we are working hard to end “sequestration.” The Budget Control Act of 2011 capped federal spending and mandated sequestration, a process under which federal agencies would see automatic, across-the-board budget cuts totaling $1.2 trillion between 2013 and 2021. Sequestration has resulted in furloughs, hiring freezes, and has severely scaled back employee training.
One agency hit particularly hard by the sequester is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Chronic budget cuts have decimated the IRS’ ability to serve taxpayers, leading to lengthy hold times, long lines, rising frustration among taxpayers and sinking morale among IRS employees.
For decades, we have been working to help federal employees balance their workloads with their needs at home. NTEU was the only federal union that worked with Congress to pass legislation granting agencies broad discretion to establish alternative work schedules (AWS). We built on that achievement at the bargaining table by successfully negotiating AWS programs at NTEU-represented agencies. Over the years, NTEU has expanded AWS programs to provide more scheduling flexibility and open eligibility to more employees.
We also advocate for expanding telework and eliminating agency roadblocks to its effective use.
For employees who need extra time off the job to care for a family member or themselves, NTEU was a strong supporter of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Today, we work to educate employees about the provisions of the law and are working tirelessly to accomplish the next step—paid parental leave.
Our federal civil service is known throughout the world as a professional, nonpartisan, merit-based workforce. NTEU leads the way in maintaining those standards on Capitol Hill, in the courts and at the bargaining table. Some of our achievements include shaping the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, securing midterm-bargaining rights for federal unions at the Supreme Court level, and bringing about the end of a federal intern program that was undercutting the merit-based competitive hiring system. Our network of trained chapter leaders and stewards work hard to safeguard and strengthen grievance procedures, which are critically important elements of negotiated bargaining and help employees keep agencies accountable.