Unions rally against debt-limit retirement cuts

Tuesday - 7/19/2011, 2:55pm EDT

By Emily Kopp
Reporter
Federal News Radio

The two largest federal unions are urging federal workers to fight back against Congressional proposals to cut government services and pay.

"You're about to get hit with a big pay cut and a big cut in your pension benefits if you don't act now," the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) National President John Gage wrote in an email to union members.

He urged them to call Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

"Sources in the budget talks tell AFGE that any deal now on the table - White House, Senate or House - will require both FERS [Federal Employee Retirement System] and CSRS [Civil Service Retirement Act] employees to pay a lot more for their pension. Plus the federal employees' retirement calculation would be based on a high-5 instead of a high-3," Gage wrote.

Representatives for Reid and McConnell told Federal News Radio they would look into whether they are hearing from federal employees about AFGE's concerns.

In the email, Gage said Congressional leaders are hearing only from "anti-government ideologues."

Meanwhile, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) rallied today in lower Manhattan to show pride in their work, while opposing threatened cuts.

NTEU President Colleen Kelley warned the crowd that cuts approved earlier this year by the House of Representatives "would mean furloughs and layoffs, and the inability to deliver critical agency missions."

Last week, AFGE and NTEU were among 21 federal unions that sent a letter to the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget asking what would happen to federal workers and programs if Congress and the White House failed to raise the federal borrowing limit by August 2. The agencies have not responded to the letter.

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