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In answering a question about “cleaning house” at the Securities and Exchange Commission, presidential candidate Gov. Romney said: ““I wish they weren’t unionized, so we could go a lot deeper than you’re actually allowed to go.”

A statement of NTEU National President Colleen M. Kelley:

The economic meltdown that devastated our nation just about four years ago demonstrates it is critically important and in the consumers’ interest for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to have appropriate authority and an experienced and knowledgeable frontline workforce free from undue influences. Moreover, SEC employees are dedicated to the agency’s mission and their work to protect investors and police the markets. Just in FY 2010, SEC employees recovered an estimated $2.2 billion to harmed investors. That is about $2 to investors for every $1 spent on the SEC’s total budget that year.

As the proud representative of about 2,800 employees at the SEC, I know that Gov. Romney is sorely mistaken if he believes that “cleaning house” at the SEC is in the best interest of our nation and our economic recovery. During the Bush Administration, the SEC was inadequately staffed and funded, a contributor to the economic troubles our country experienced.

Federal unions have no authority to prevent agencies from restructuring or reorganizing. The president and other politicians have some limitations based on merit protections built into the civil service system to protect federal workers from political interference that would compromise the mission of the agency. However, if employees were fired wrongfully, the union would step in and make sure those merit protection rules are enforced.

In a speech to U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney said he will look to reduce federal workforce by 10 percent.

Gov. Romney is targeting working people in order to provide even greater tax cuts to our nation’s wealthiest individuals and corporations. In his latest attack on middle class federal workers, the governor repeated his call to reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent.

Cutting the federal workforce would undermine the services that the American people depend on and want. From protecting our borders to safeguarding our nuclear plants to protecting our agriculture, these services are vital to our nation. In a recent survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs for NTEU, the majority of respondents, across political parties, called for providing more resources and staffing for such government activities as ensuring the safety of food and medical devices, providing border security and veterans assistance, and making sure that nuclear plants and materials are secure. Additionally, two-thirds said that Congress should raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans before cutting funding for critically important federal services.

Gov. Romney has clearly shown that he is willing to sacrifice the jobs of hard-working Americans in order to protect and expand tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas and for wealthy individuals who already use loopholes to pay less in taxes than their employees.

These policies show little regard for the federal workers around the nation working to provide school children with healthy meals, safeguard our nation’s banking system, keep our food and drug supplies safe, protect our borders and much more. While Gov. Romney may show disdain for almost half of our nation’s citizens, federal employees are hard at work each and every day serving all of their fellow Americans.

The platform for the Republican Party calls for reducing the federal workforce by 10 percent.

 

With many agencies already lacking the necessary staffing and resources, cutting the federal workforce would undermine the services the American people depend on and want.

From protecting our borders to safeguarding our nuclear plants to protecting our agriculture to keeping our food and medical devices safe, these services are vital to our nation. A 10 percent across-the-board cut would mean that crucial services the American people want would not be delivered.

In a recent survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs for NTEU, substantial numbers of respondents, from all political persuasions and across demographic lines, recognized the value of the federal workforce. Supported by majorities of between 58 and 86 percent, they called for providing more resources and staffing for such government activities as ensuring the safety of food and medical devices, providing border security and veterans assistance, and making sure that nuclear plants and materials are safe and secure. The survey clearly shows the American people understand that cutting resources and staffing undermines the ability of federal workers to do their important work.

At a recent campaign event in Colorado, presumptive presidential nominee former Gov. Mitt Romney said,“We have 145,000 more government workers under this president. Let’s send them home and put you back to work.”

Mitt Romney’s inaccurate claims about government workers, Washington Post, June 4, 2012

In reality, the proportion of federal employees to American citizens is lower than it has been in decades. For example, in 1953, there was one federal worker for every 78 residents, while there is only one for every 148 today. And that rate is falling as agencies struggle to find the staffing they need to fulfill critical duties and serve the American people.

The fact is that insufficient staffing threatens critical services and hurts all Americans. Current staffing shortages at our airports and along our borders cost the U.S. tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars due to untenable wait times. Meanwhile, the Internal Revenue Service has actually lost 5,000 employees in the last year, which results in less assistance to honest taxpayers and the loss of billions in much needed revenue to address the deficit.

Additionally, without the resources they need, federal employees keep our air and water clean, protect our food supply, protect investors, aid the elderly and the disabled, and provide vital services. To “send them home” would only hurt our nation, our economy and our most vulnerable citizens.

Following recent primary victories, former Gov. Mitt Romney said, “We will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve."

Romney rips 'unfairness' of federal pay, benefits, Government Executive, April 25, 2012.

Former Gov. Romney’s comments indicate that cutting pay and benefits for middle-class federal workers would be at the top of his agenda to address “unfairness,” despite the vital service they provide our nation and despite the fact they are facing the same economic challenges as their fellow Americans

NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley said: “Does he have any idea of the real unfairness facing our country? I have a different definition of unfairness, like the tax policies of Gov. Romney’s party that require secretaries to pay higher tax rates than billionaires; like discrimination against women in the workplace that his party opposed fixing; like cuts to safety net programs to fund tax breaks for corporations that move jobs overseas; and like executives at government contractors being paid $760,000 each with taxpayer dollars.”

The NTEU leader added: “Federal workers are not apart from the rest of our country; they are, in fact, middle class working people, who live and work in cities and towns all across our country. The real unfairness is contained in these continuing political attacks, and not just on their pay and benefits, but on their commitment to duty and country.” Read the press release.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz wrote in an editorial that he wants to “reduce the size and scope of the federal workforce” and “bring federal compensation in line with the private sector.”

Federal government should reduce the size, scope of the federal workforce, Deseret News, April 1, 2012

Rep. Chaffetz ignores that there are fewer federal employees doing more work than any time in the modern era. Today, there is one federal worker for every 147 residents compared to one federal employee for every 78 residents in 1953.
Chaffetz also uses on a misleading report on federal compensation by the Congressional Budget Office. More accurate analysis comparing jobs in both sectors by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a 26-percent pay gap in favor of the private sector.

Federal employees guard our borders, keep our air and water clean, assist the elderly and the disabled, protect our food supply, help business innovate and grow, preserve our national parks and provides countless services that keep our nation running. Without them, all Americans will suffer.

Within a single breath, Gov. Mitt Romney criticizes federal employees as “bureaucrats who work in Washington” for looking for “things they can do,” and for “places they can interfere,” but then criticizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for taking too long to approve medical devices.

Campaign Stop, San Diego, March 26, 2012

A statement of NTEU National President Colleen M. Kelley:  
Based on his comments in a recent campaign speech, it is unclear whether Gov. Romney supports the important work of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
On one hand, Gov. Romney indicated federal “bureaucrats” are looking for “things they can do,” and for “places they can interfere.” On the other hand, he indicated the underfunded and understaffed Food and Drug Administration (FDA) takes too long to approve medical devices.

If ensuring the safety of medical devices is ‘interfering,’ I am sure all citizens who seek medical care welcome such “interference.”

While the FDA has faced chronic underfunding and insufficient staffing for years, its dedicated employees continue to work vigilantly to keep the American people safe.

In aspiring to become the leader of the federal government and its employees, Gov. Romney should first develop an understanding of the important work those people do to serve our nation and its citizens and the challenges facing our federal agencies caused by the severe budget cuts such as the ones he is proposing.

Gov. Romney insulted and mischaracterized dedicated, hardworking federal employees. Federal workers defend our borders, protect our air and water, safeguard our nuclear weapons and nuclear materials, promote business innovation, assist the elderly and the disabled, and do so much more for their fellow Americans.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan says that federal employees are “immune from the effects of the recession.”

House Budget Resolution, March 20, 2012

It is simply not true to claim that federal employees are somehow immune from the effects of the recession. Federal workers are currently under a two-year pay freeze, yet they are seeing increases in their health care costs, gas prices and groceries like all Americans.  For evidence of how federal workers are suffering look at the increased requests for help being received by the Federal Employees Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA). FEEA has seen a 200 percent increase from a year ago in the number of emergency grants made to federal workers and a 28 percent spike in emergency loans. These loans go to federal workers who have fallen behind on basic living expenses such as mortgage, rent and utility payments or who have unbudgeted expenses like a large car repair bill or a family funeral.

Sen. Jon Kyl: “Federal employees on average make a whole lot more than people in the private sector. I think it’s fair to ask federal employees to make a sacrifice as well.”

Pay-freeze politics trip up payroll-tax talks, Wall Street Journal MarketWatch, Feb. 7, 2012

Through the current pay freeze, federal employees are already making a $60 billion contribution over 10 years to shrinking our deficit, even as the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Employment Cost Index reports that private sector wages have increased 4.7 percent over the last three years.  As noted by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, federal workers should not be “singled out as a piggy bank,” especially when the nation’s wealthiest have not been asked to contribute a single dime.
House Budget Committee (Chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan): "…government bureaucrats in Washington continue to enjoy significant advantages over those whose tax dollars finance their compensation."

House Budget Committee statement, January 30, 2012

Rather than selectively referencing findings from a flawed Congressional Budget Office study, more accurate data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that federal employees are paid an average of 26 percent less than those with comparable jobs in the private sector. Additionally, more than 85 percent of middle-class, taxpaying federal employees live outside of the Washington, D.C., and are in every state and community in our nation. They keep our air and water clean, safeguard nuclear plants and weapons, keep terrorists out of our country and ensure our food and medicines are safe.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich wants to get rid of federal employees “who are ideologically so far to the left or those people who want to dictate to the rest of us.”

Huckabee Forum 2: South Carolina Undecided on Fox News in Charleston, SC, January 14, 2012

Federal employees do not create policy, but only implement the policies set forth by Congress and the administration. Federal employees do not “dictate” to anyone, but are skilled professionals carrying out their duties as they are trained to do.

Rep. Dennis Ross called President Obama “a public-sector union puppet" in a Jan. 9 statement following the administration’s announcement of a proposed 0.5 percent pay increase for federal workers.

This modest pay raise would be the first increase for the federal workforce since 2010, which is currently in the midst of a two-year pay freeze. It falls short of the 4.7 percent increase in the employment cost index, which measures private sector wage growth, over the past three years.

“People who are government servants, public servants should not be paid more than the taxpayers who are paying for it”

Former Gov. Mitt Romney, Jan. 8, 2012, Republican Presidential Debate

This is an often-repeated statement but it is wrong. People who use this statement back it up by comparing the entire private-sector workforce against the federal workforce. But the two workforces are not the same with the private sector having many more employees in lower-wage service jobs.  The federal workforce, on the other hand, is better educated with more experience including numerous doctors, lawyers and other professionals. A more fair apples-to-apples comparison shows federal workers earn less, an average of 26 percent less, then private-sector employees in similar positions.  

"The first step in returning to an Opportunity Society is scaling back our vast federal government.”

Former Gov. Mitt Romney in a Dec. 19, 2011 USA Today Editorial

Federal employees work hard every day protecting our borders, safeguarding investors, monitoring our food and water supplies, and providing an endless list of services critical to their fellow Americans. Understaffing and underfunding the government would degrade the quality and availability of services the American people expect and depend on as part of their everyday lives.

"If you have Health and Human Service bureaucrats who try to block our being able to block grant dollars back to the states, so you all can decide how best to deliver health care in New Hampshire. I don’t think you can fire federal bureaucrats, but you can reassign them. So, but reassign them to some really God-awful place."

Gov. Rick Perry campaigning in New Hampshire, Nov. 29, 2011

Federal employees understand that their role is to implement and carry out the policies set by lawmakers and political leaders. Despite significant staffing shortages, continual threats of government shutdowns and the fact that they are working under a two-year pay freeze, federal employees continue to do exemplary work. Furthermore, it is patently false to state that federal employees cannot be fired for failing to implement policies established by political leaders.

"Public servants shouldn't get a better deal than the taxpayers they work for … The American people are increasingly working to support the government. It ought to be the other way around."
                                                                                             
Former Gov. Mitt Romney in U.S. News and World Report, Romney Goes After Federal Employees in Fiscal Plan, Nov. 3, 2011

An analysis of unbiased Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveals that federal employees are paid nearly 27 percent less than those with comparable private sector jobs.


"Federal employees have almost double the compensation that private employees have. [...] Maybe these government unions are going to have to contribute to their pension, maybe they’re going to have to pay something for their health care, like I’m having to pay, so when I hear regular taxpayers in Kentucky they don’t have a lot of sympathy because they’re paying high insurance premiums and they have to pay for their own retirements."

Sen. Rand Paul on Fox Business (courtesy ThinkProgress)

Federal employees pay .8 percent for the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) defined benefit portion and 6.2 percent to social security and can also contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan.The Federal Employee Health Benefits Program requires employees to share the cost with their employer, usually 25 percent of premiums according to the Office of Personnel Management.

Federal pay lags behind that of the private sector in comparable jobs by almost 27 percent, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Americans deserve a leaner, more efficient federal workforce, not one that pays its employees far more than what comparable private employees receive, or one that hands out bonuses and promotions regardless of performance. Federal bureaucrats should not receive real increases in pay while taxpayers are losing their jobs and struggling to pay their bills."

Gov. Rick Perry in his Cut, Balance & Grow economic development plan.

Federal employees pay is based on the General Schedule, a structured system which uses merit-based standards for promotions, bonuses and pay raises.

Federal employees are in the midst of a two-year pay freeze, effectively contributing $60 billion to deficit reduction over the next 10 years.

"We need to put a freeze on federal hires and federal raises because, as you know, federal employees are making twice as much as their private counterparts."

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) on ABC This Week

As found by Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis, federal employees are paid, on average, almost 27 percent less than comparable workers in the private sector. Unlike conservative think tanks, it is real data from surveys of similar public and private sector jobs – a logical apples-to-apples comparison.

Media  

"There are many thousands of federal employees who are in their 50s or even in their late 40s," Rep. John R. Duncan (R- Tenn.) wrote. "As much as American lifespans have increased, we simply cannot afford to allow people to draw federal pensions at such young ages."

Duncan: Cut deficit by clamping down on early retirement for federal workers, Knoxville News Sentinel, 10/7/11

"Most early retirement in the federal workplace is limited to law enforcement and similar occupations, and is tied to physical fitness requirements and mandatory retirement at age 57. Employees in these physically demanding jobs can retire at age 50 with 20 years of service. The vast majority of federal employees cannot."

President Kelley responded in a letter to the editor