Bill to Freeze Federal Pay, Slash Workforce, Gets Soundly Defeated as Federal Unions Press Senate


Wednesday evening, a flurry of activity in the federal labor community began as reports emerged that Republicans in the U.S. Senate would introduce a bill to pay for the extension of the payroll tax cut by freezing federal pay and reducing the workforce. The following morning, that proposal, formally introduced as S. 1931, came sharply into focus.

The bill, introduced by freshman Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, proposed funding the popular payroll tax cut extension with an additional three-year freeze on federal salaries and a 200,000 worker downsizing of the federal workforce. This prompted a rapid and organized response from federal worker unions demanding that the draconian measure be defeated. NFFE was one of the first to release a statement opposing the bill, followed by letters and statements from coalition groups like the Federal Workers Alliance and National Postal Coalition – both of which NFFE is a member.

“The federal labor community mobilized immediately to defeat this unreasonable legislation and I believe that was the determining factor in the overwhelming defeat of the bill,” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan.

In an uncharacteristically swift legislative maneuver, the bill was brought up for a vote by the full Senate Thursday evening. Late into the evening, the vote came back 20-78 against the bill, representing a huge victory for federal employees after what had been two days of intense legislative and political action.

“Federal employees didn’t just dodge a bullet on this one; they got active and made their voice heard on this issue,” said Dougan. “This is just one example of how powerful federal employees are when they get together and stand up for themselves.”