AFGE’s Cox: House budget blueprint means immediate pay cut for feds

WASHINGTON–The proposed House Republican budget blueprint for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 means an immediate pay cut for all two million federal workers, the leader of their biggest union warns.

“The bottom line is this: If this budget were to pass, we would get our salary cut immediately, our pensions cut, our jobs outsourced,” Government Employees (AFGE) President J. David Cox told his members on a nationwide conference call.

“And parts of our agencies would be dismantled. This is dead serious,” he warned.

Cox used the conference call, reported in the Union Advocate, the newspaper of AFGE Local 987 at Warner-Robbins Air Force Base in Georgia, to urge his members to flood their lawmakers’ offices with calls and e-mails and to demonstrate publically against the GOP budget blueprint, House Concurrent Resolution (HConRes71).

The union also ran two toll-free phone numbers to call: 1-844-669-5146 to be patched through to lawmakers’ D.C. offices and 1-888-775-3148 to be linked to district offices.

The pay cut, Cox emphasized, would take the form of a large increase in workers’ payments into their pension plan, with no corresponding hike in payments after retirement. Eventually, he said, each federal worker would pay 7 percent of their salaries into funding pensions. Now, many if not most pay 0.8 percent, he explained.

The budget resolution also lowers the salary base for future pension calculations, by making it the average of the highest five years’ pay of a worker, rather than the highest three years, and eliminates cost-of-living hikes, Cox noted. And the GOP budget blueprint would eliminate at least 27,000 federal jobs immediately, he warned.

Whether the House will approve the budget is up in the air. Budget Committee Chair Diane Black, R-Tenn., claimed “The entire House Republican Conference can support” the budget as “a cornerstone of our legislative agenda,” clearly expecting no Democratic backers.

She didn’t get any Democrats in the Budget Committee. The budget blueprint passed on a party-line vote, and top Democrat John Yarmuth, D-Ky., proclaimed it “puts the entire burden of deficit reduction on the middle class and struggling families” and “does not achieve one penny of deficit reduction by closing tax loopholes that benefit billionaires and corporations.” Democratic amendments to change the budget all lost on party-line votes.

“Even Social Security is not spared. The budget assumes a cut in the program’s disability benefits, which it describes as ‘a first step’ to Social Security reform,” Yarmuth said.

But Black may not get unanimous Republican support for her budget, either, and she won’t bring it to the full U.S. House until after the August congressional recess. The so-called House Freedom Caucus of 40+ lawmakers demands more cuts in so-called “entitlements,” including Social Security and Medicare. Otherwise, they’ll also vote against the budget.

Source: PAI