February 22, 2013
By AFGE President J. David Cox Sr.
The Department of Defense didn't ask for this $45 billion budget cut, but its plan for dealing with sequestration is putting all of the pain on civilian employees. While costs for the civilian workforce have held steady during the past 10 years, spending on service contracts has more than doubled during the same period and now tops $200 billion every year.
Federal employees have already contributed more than $120 billion toward deficit reduction, yet service contractors aren't being asked to sacrifice one red cent.
Furloughing most of the civilian workforce for 22 days by the end of September will have a direct and severe impact on nearly 800,000 employees across the country. Employees will be forced to take what amounts to a 20% pay cut between now and the end of September, on top of 27 months of frozen wages from the continuing pay freeze.
These are tremendous economic hits for all of our members. An employee in the middle of the pay scale, earning about $50,000 a year, takes home between $500 and $600 a week after subtracting health insurance, retirement and taxes. Taking away one day's pay every week could mean the difference between covering the mortgage and putting food on the table.
These employees aren't some fat cat bureaucrats in a plush Washington office. They are the firefighters who safeguard our bases, the healthcare professionals who treat injured soldiers in military hospitals, the mechanics who repair our tanks and planes, the logistics personnel who ensure supplies make it to our troops, the acquisition experts who prevent big defense contractors from ripping off taxpayers.
They are the most patriotic, dedicated public servants you can imagine. Most are veterans. They deserve better. I urge Congress to find a solution to this manufactured crisis that does not punish our hard-working federal employees, cripple our economic recovery or gut federal programs and services.