Civil Servants Push Back At Trump, GOP Characterizations Of Career Feds As Lazy, Entitled Sloths Nursed On Taxpayer Dollars
They get sick, pay bills, go to work, save to send their kids to college and hope to enjoy the retirement they’ve been promised. Federal workers would like you to know that they are people too.
The GOP-controlled Congress and President Donald Trump have hammered away at what they characterize as slackers with too many benefits and too much time on their hands, and, frankly, civil servants are sick of it.
“Contrary to what you may have heard in a recent congressional hearing, my members are barely holding on to a middle-class standard of living,” Pam Sturm, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 822 IRS workers in St. Louis, said in a statement.
“They struggle to pay for housing, utilities, rising health-care costs, tuition and care for children or elderly parents,” Sturm said.
She said 65 percent of her members are Grade 5 to Grade 8, which means their starting salary is $33,000. The highest salary for Grade 8 employees is $58,962.
Trump Cuts And Congressional Hearings
The federal government spent $215 billion in wages to pay about 2.2 million civilian workers at more than 100 agencies in jobs that represent over 650 occupations. Lawmakers eliminated annual across-the-board increases for most federal civilian workers in calendar years 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Trump’s 2018 budget proposal calls for deep cuts in the pensions of federal employees. On May 18, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on a Congressional Budget Office Report that said federal workers made 17 percent more than workers in comparable jobs in the private sector.
The twin events were like catnip to a Republican Party in disarray over ongoing investigations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to leak damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton, not to mention gaping holes in how Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy would be covered.
“We are going to have civil service reform,” said Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Mark Meadows (R–N.C.), who led the May 18 committee hearing. “The testimony that all of you have here today will play a factor in that.”
Democrats and officials from the two biggest employee unions, the NTEU and the American Federation of Government Employees, said the public sector isn’t overpaid; the average American worker is increasingly underpaid and stripped of health and pension benefits that once were routine in the U.S.
“What we offer our federal employees is a model and a standard, that we ought to be thinking about how we can get the private sector to raise its standards up to that level,” said Rep. John Sarbanes (D–Md.).
Emboldened federal employees are increasingly taking to social media to speak out.
“Don't steal from me what was promised when I signed up,” said self-described “fed” Darin Craig on a federal employee website. “Many talented and bright federal workers give up better compensating opportunities to serve their country so consider that Mr. Trump.”
Donald Rees also posted on the FEDweek website.
“After 30 years of service in a high risk occupation, I was looking forward to (retirement) with a modest COLA; now he wants to renege on that contract after I held up my end of the deal."
Taylor Cox contributed to this story.
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Image Credit: By Alec Perkins from Hoboken, USA - Scott Welfel, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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