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Trump: Fire ‘em and Freeze their Wages

Trump's senseless budget calls for redefining the federal workforce by stopping raises, increasing healthcare contributions and more

Brian Young's picture
Feb 14, 2018

This week, Trump released his budget for 2019. On Monday we took a look at the $200 Billion infrastructure plan that seeks to privatize many of our roads and bridges.

One of the ways that Trump is proposing to pay for his massive budget is by making significant changes to the federal workforce. First, he is proposing a wage freeze for 2019. According to the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act, government workers were slated to receive a 2% base pay raise, while some in higher cost areas would get slightly more. The budget also proposes slowing down “step increases” or automatic raises based on longevity and instead issue more performance-based raises. Trump is also proposing making it easier to fire federal employees by streamlining the hiring and dismissal process and using the performance reviews that will be instituted to determine raises to also decide who is underperforming. This component seems to mirror the Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act which Congress passed in June.

Trump’s budget also took aim at federal workers retirement by asking for employees to make larger contributions while the government cuts theirs. Proposals include the elimination of the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for current and future participants in the Federal Employee Retirement System (FRES) and a .5% cut to COLA for Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) participants. He is also proposing ending payments from FRES for employees who retire before age 62. It also calls for employees to contribute an additional 1% to their retirement every year. The goal is to get federal workers to be paying about 6% of their salary into the retirement system. Annuities would also be changed and would be calculated as an average of the salary made over the five highest consecutive salary years. Currently, they only use three years, which helps to increase the payout.  The budget also funds a study that would explore the benefits of getting rid of a pension system for future employees.

As UCOMM has previously reported, Trump is looking at reducing the number of days off that federal workers get. The proposal would combine all days off into one “paid time off category” while reducing the total amount of days that an employee could take. This would include the elimination of some Federal Holidays.

Federal unions did not escape Trump’s wrath. In an appendix of the budget, there is a proposal to reduce union time, where union leaders are able to use work time to deal with union issues, such as representing members in a meeting with their boss. The proposal would severely limit what is allowed to be done during this time, a clear attempt on the part of Trump to weaken AFGE and other federal unions.

“Trump's budget is nothing less than a roadmap for dismantling the career civil service and handing over our most sacred public institutions to political donors and party loyalists,” said J. David Cox of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) the union that represents federal workers. "The financial hit alone to federal workers would climb to $246 billion over 10 years if President Trump succeeds in freezing their wages next year. The women and men who serve our country deserve our support and respect, not calls for slashing their pay and benefits and politicizing their jobs."

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