Trump Proposes Ending Federal Pensions

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The IBEW reports that Trump wants to stop pensions, end raises and take away paid holidays for federal workers

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Jan 16, 2018

Trump Administration officials have suggested ways to save the government money in the next budget. And, no surprise, some of the savings are expected to come at the expense of working people.  

The proposals call for slashing the wages of federal workers, endangering their retirement, making them pay more for health care – even taking away paid holidays.

“This is a continuation of the near-constant attacks on federal employees,” said Government Employees Department Director Paul O’Connor. “Just like the tax plan, it’s about paying dividends to the richest and leaving pennies for the rest of us.”

According to a leaked memo, officials in the Domestic Policy Council submitted a list of recommendations to the Office of Management and Budget for incorporation in the fiscal 2019 budget that President Trump will send to Congress in February.

The recommendations cover several agencies and issues. Among those, the memo’s authors suggested the Office of Personnel Management freeze federal workers’ pay, which they singled out as the most important cost-saving measure because it’s the only one the Trump administration can do unilaterally. The memo also recommended slowing seniority-based raises, eliminating the defined benefit retirement plan and retiree health benefits for new hires and bringing paid leave “in line with private sector norms,” which could mean fewer paid holidays.

“The rights of working people are being eroded in the private sector,” O’Connor said. “A 401(k) doesn’t compare to the security of a pension. In a lot of ways, the federal government is the last bastion of solid employee compensation.”

The architect of most of the attacks on working people is Trump’s labor advisor, James Sherk. Formerly with the right-leaning Heritage Foundation, Sherk has authored a number of anti-union briefs, claiming that public sector collective bargaining damages the economy and advocating for right-to-work laws and changes to election rules in favor of employers. He’s also referred to unions as cartels.

Sherk is also behind the memo’s recommendation to raise the budget of the Office of Labor-Management Standards from $38 million to $55 million. “The agency does not have the resources necessary to fulfill its mission of robustly investigating union corruption,” he wrote.

The recommendations have no immediate legal force but, like the president’s budget itself, reflect the administration’s priorities, making it an ideological blueprint.

“Even if this doesn’t go through, a lot of people will still be stressed, wondering what will happen,” O’Connor said.

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Federal workers union sues Trump admin over government shutdown

By Owen Daugherty – 12/31/18 04:28 PM EST 1,928
One of the country’s largest unions representing federal workers is suing the Trump administration over the government shutdown, claiming that it is illegal to require employees to work without pay.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) union released a statement on Monday announcing its lawsuit as the shutdown stretches past a week.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, alleges that the federal government is in violation of the law by requiring some federal workers, many of which are represented by the union, to work without pay during the shutdown.

“Our members put their lives on the line to keep our country safe,” J. David Cox Sr., president of AFGE, said in the release. “Requiring them to work without pay is nothing short of inhumane. Positions that are considered ‘essential’ during a government shutdown are some of the most dangerous jobs in the federal government.”

AFGE also denounced the shutdown earlier this month.

The partial shutdown began on Dec. 22 after the House and Senate failed to agree on an end-of-year government spending bill.

Democrats and Republicans are at odds over President Trump’s demands for $5 billion to fund a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. He has said he will not sign a spending bill that does not include his desired border wall funding.

Many federal employees work during the partial shutdown and receive backpay once the government is funded again, but the lawsuit alleges that practice is unlawful.

The law firm Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman & Fitch is representing the union in its lawsuit.

“Approximately 420,000 federal employees are continuing to work, but don’t know when they will get their next paychecks. This is not an acceptable way for any employer, let alone the U.S. government, to treat its employees. These employees still need to pay childcare expenses, buy gas, and incur other expenses to go to work every day and yet, they are not getting paid. It is a blatant violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act,” Heidi Burakiewicz, a partner at the firm, said in the release.

The lawsuit comes just days after the Trump administration issued an executive order to freeze federal workers’ pay after the new year. The proposal to cancel a 2.1 percent pay increase was first announced in August.

The White House did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

—Updated at 4:49 p.m.

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