The American Federation of Government Employees is rallying tomorrow against Social Security Administration cutbacks. The union, which represents some 28,000 employees in SSA field offices and tele-service centers, is using the lunchtime gatherings to protest the continued use of attrition to reduce the workforce and cutting the hours that field offices are open to the public. The rallies will take place at about 80 offices around the country, including the Social Security Administration’s Baltimore headquarters, according to Witold Skwierczynski, president of AFGE’s National Council of SSA Field Operations Locals.
The Social Security Administration has been under a partial hiring freeze since July 2010. In the last year alone, the agency lost 1,600 employees, according to a recent inspector general’s report. While agency managers have told employees “to market Internet self-service aggressively, . . . workers know that many clients, especially those who are elderly or disabled, or speak limited English, need personalized service,” the union said in a flyer. Agency officials have attributed the cutbacks to tight budgets.
For the union, an added worry is the potential impact of across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect in less than a month unless Congress and the Obama administration cut a deal to head them off. By AFGE’s count, those cuts–officially known as sequestration–could cost the Social Security Administration up to $1 billion out of its administrative budget. The union is instead asking Congress to “take their hands off SSA, Medicare and Medicaid and concentrate on raising taxes for the undertaxed two percent,” Skwiercyznski said in an email.