May 31, 2012

Dear Representative:

In my capacity as President of the Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO (MTD) along with our executive council and affiliated International Unions, I ask that you strike language pertaining to the pay freeze provision of HR 5854.

I am a veteran and fully support a robust spending aimed at providing services to our Veterans, and towards fulfilling military construction projects, I am however, opposed to the provision in the bill that extends the current two year civilian pay freeze to a third year for Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) workers.

On November 29, 2010, President Obama announced a two-year pay freeze for our nation’s federal employees. While reminding the public that federal workers were, “patriots who love their country,” he also said that, “getting this deficit under control is going to require some broad sacrifice, and that sacrifice must be shared by employees of the federal government.” Federal employees stepped up to the plate and accepted that two year pay freeze. As federal workers continue to experience the current pay freeze, employees hired into federal service next year will also sacrifice – this time with a more expensive, watered down, third-tier pension system approved by Congress and signed into law earlier this year. All total, so far middle-income federal workers (less than 1% of the population distribution) have given a total of $75 billion towards deficit reduction, while Wall Street millionaires and billionaires (the top 1% of the distribution), who caused the economic collapse and profited handsomely from the ensuing federal bailouts, have contributed nothing to getting America’s economy back on track.

Now, with the pay freeze set to end in FY13, the House continues to take aim at federal worker pay through various legislative vehicles, including HR 5854. Unfortunately these workers have become an unwitting political football. The most glaring example of this is the incorrect notion that federal workers are overpaid. The truth is that federal workers lag far behind their private sector counterparts. For example, last October the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released data showing that federal employees are compensated an average of 24% less than workers in comparable private sector jobs.

The truth is that that the impact of this freeze is quite significant. For example, under the current two-year federal pay freeze a federal worker earning an annual salary of $70k represents up to a $29,000 cumulative pay cut over the next decade, and a $66,000 cumulative pay cut over 20 years. If this pay freeze were to be extended to 3 years, as would be the case for DoD and DVA workers under HR 5854, the 20 year loss would increase to $95,970. For an employee earning $55,000 a year, they will experience a 20 year cumulative pay cut of $75,405.26 under a three year pay freeze. Needless to say, these are significant and deep sacrifices our federal workers are making.

The MTD strongly opposes the pay freeze provision of HR 5854. I urge you to strike that language from the Bill.

Thank you for your consideration.


Ronald E. Ault