The government as 'Animal Farm?'

Monday - 8/26/2013, 2:00am EDT

"All men are created equal." - Declaration of Independence

"All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others." - George Orwell, "Animal Farm"

About half the federal workforce has been furloughed at some point this year. Most for one or two days per pay period. More than 30,000 have filed appeals with the Merit Systems Protection Board, which has fewer than 300 employees, and even fewer who actually deal with appeals.

Unless workers who have appealed can prove they were furloughed illegally — or because of discrimination — they will have a tough time making a case. But what if the discrimination isn't based on age, race, religion or sexual orientation? What is the status?

Back in the day, federal agencies classified employees as essential or nonessential. That meant, for example, nonessential employees could stay home with pay during a big snowstorm. But essential employees had to slog it in. It is a big deal almost every winter in Washington.

Thanks to political correctness, no feds bear the label of nonessential. Instead, employees are now divided as emergency and non-emergency. Non-emergency workers typically get excused in bad weather conditions. Emergency workers don't.

Many of the "emergency" workers are also classified as professional or otherwise ineligible to be part of the union bargaining unit that represents rank-in-file employees.

A Defense Department worker said, "my bargaining unit is shown in my personnel files as code 8888: Ineligible. This is the case for many DoD employees. However, I was furloughed along with most others."

It was his understanding that professionals, like him, are considered "too important to national security to go on strike, and therefore we can't join a union," he said. Actually, it's a little more complicated than that. It is also illegal for union members to strike the government. But he does have a point. Up to an extent.

"How does the government reconcile judging a billet as too critical to strike," he said, "while on the other hand, saying the same individual is 'nonessential and able to be furloughed?'"

So can you be loved, essential and irreplacable some of the time, but not others? Run that concept by your significant other and see if he or she salutes!

Author George Orwell put it another way. In his masterpiece novel "Animal Farm," he had the animals take over the farm and then the clever pigs take over the other animals. He modified the "all animals are created" pledge by adding that some are more equal than others.

What's your take? Do you feel that you are equal only sometimes, part- time, in your fulltime government job?


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Nicole Ogrysko

Today, we're breaking down the finer points of the pencil. The band of metal that connects a pencil to an eraser is called a "ferrule."

Source: Mental Floss


MORE FROM FEDERAL NEWS RADIO

MSPB continues long slog through 30,000 furlough appeals
The Merit Systems Protection Board has received more than 30,000 furlough appeals as of Aug. 21 - 98 percent of those are from civilian employees of the Department of Defense.

Report: Thousands of DoD civilians could face layoffs in 2014
The Department of Defense may need to rely on reductions in force in 2014 if it's faced with a second year of automatic budget cuts due to sequestration.

How long does it take to crush a federal employee?
The federal workforce has been used as a political football for decades. Feds know the drill: A politician from either party needs to win points with the folks back home on the issue of cutting government.