Unions blast plan to delay sequester by cutting feds


Federal employee unions on Wednesday swiftly denounced a Republican plan to delay the steep budget cuts known as sequestration by cutting the federal workforce by 10 percent through attrition.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee and other GOP lawmakers proposed legislation that would put sequestration off by only allowing the federal government to hire one new employee for every three who leave. This would save about $85 billion, the same amount sequestration is supposed to cut for the rest of fiscal 2013.

The American Federation of Government Employees, the National Treasury Employees Union, and the National Federation of Federal Employees lined up Wednesday afternoon to blast the idea. They all agreed that such cuts would be counterproductive and hamstring the government’s ability to perform crucial jobs like fight wildfires, protect food safety and guard the borders. And federal employees have already absorbed more than two years of frozen pay scales and increased pension contributions that contributed about $103 billion to deficit reduction.

AFGE National President J. David Cox called the bill “egregious legislation” that “would fatten defense contractor cronies while slashing federal jobs.” NTEU National President Colleen Kelley said cutting feds by 10 percent would be “foolhardy and would result in short staffing that could last for a decade.”

But NFFE National President William Dougan had the most colorful response:

Slashing the workforce to generate a year’s worth of savings is like cutting off your arm to lose weight for the prom.



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  1. The Air Force is overstaffed in a number of areas, especially in the acquisition fields. All those additional personnel did not do anything to improve the acquistion process, or lower costs, or reduce development timelines, or streamline testing, etc. The Air Force civilian work force was cut substantially in the 1990s. Today, the Air Force has fewer bases than in the 1990s, fewer aircraft, fewer nuclear weapons, etc, but not fewer civilians. There is certainly room to cut and cutting 10% through attrition, likely to take several years is hardly a bitter pill to swallow.

    The unions need to just shut up on this topic.

  2. Hey grumpy,

    Why not just eliminate the air force? The navy and army can fly jets. Why do we need a branch that only flies? Why do we spend more on defense than the next 8 countries combined? Why dont we trim a few aircraft orders and save the money that way?

    Oh, thats right, its all one big jobs bill. The difference is, the federal govt mostly employs people from 3 blue states in Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia, and D.C. The “federal” jobs in the red states belong to boeing, macdonnel douglas, northrop grumman, etc who have manufacturing jobs paid by defense spending.

    This proposal is the dumbest way to cut costs I’ve ever seen. You want to cut employees, but will pay over 2k for a laptop that you can get at best buy for 700? Of course. Because paying Michael Dell a premium for his computer keeps him happy to keep his headquarters in texas.

    How about cutting congressional staffers? Or furloughing congressional staff? I dont see them offering up a 25percent pay cut for themselves like the rest of the govt over the rest of the fiscal year.

    Make smart cuts. Not this hatchet approach. I seriously believe we elect the dumbest morons we can find and then they put their buddies in charge of these agencies and they dont have a clue on how to run one. And then they wonder why its not efficient. Its because they get in the way.

    But go ahead and furlough me. I actually go to work and do my job. What was I thinking?

  3. grumpy is right. The unions need to police themselves far better. As a recent employee of a defense contractor, I watched govt. test witnesses act like slobs at our facilities, bring dozens of useless people to program reviews, be unable to keep RFP deadlines multiple times over, not be able to successfully downselect after competitions (just look at LCS for one), and the list goes on and on. Meanwhile we had cut our admin, housekeeping and IT staffs to the bone, switched almost entirely to VTC and eliminated travel, laid off engineering staff, and foregone needed facilities investment. I still saw the customer schedule numerous meetings at our site and milked the lax govt. travel reimbursement policies every time. I won’t even start on the bottom feeders and corruption at the site DCMA and DCAA offices. If the federal employee unions could do half as good a job as the free market in allowing competition to weed out the deadweight, the govt. wouldn’t be in the situation it’s in. Let the cuts come.

  4. This article is not refering to civilians, e.g. contractor employees, it is speaking to federal employees. Those of us who have been around for the lasrt quarter century are a little tired of how Congress attempts to correct its overspending by cutting pay and benefits to those of us who have devoted our lives to public service. I have served in both DOD and civilian federal service. I firmly believe that this Congress has done enough to erode the moral of the current federal workforce by freezing pay, freezing hiring, and decreasing our retirement income through reduced TSP contributions and annuities. This approach has to stop somewhere. Congress still needs to address pork barrel spending and special projects before depleting the federal workforce any further.

  5. Responding to Don,
    You have an excellent idea! We can in fact eliminate the USAF and re-integrate it with the Army and go back to being he Army Air Corps. That would free up a lot of bloat at the pentagon and the bulk of those HQ cuts would be in senior civilians and military officers.

    Now, where did I ever say that cutting emloyees alone was the way to go without reforming our absurd acquisition practices? Of course we shouldn’t pay$2K for a 700 laptop. Cutting the bloat from the acquisition fields will make for the necessary streamlining needed to cut waste.

    Last, as I said a 10% cut through attrition will likely take years, between 3 and 4 based on current attrition rates. That hardly constitutes a meat-axe approach to cutting staff.

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