Coalition of Federal Unions Pen Letter to Biden Defending Federal Pensions


In response to reports that the Congress and Administration were considering pension cuts as part of a deal to raise the national debt ceiling, a coalition of federal Unions last week penned a sharply worded letter urging the exclusion of retirement benefits from any potential compromise.

Along with sixteen other Unions representing federal workers, NFFE called on Vice President Joe Biden – the leader of the Administration’s negotiation team – to defend the hard-earned pension benefits of federal employees.

“As the Obama Administration’s chief negotiator with respect to coming to an agreement that will lead to an increase in the debt ceiling, please reject the current dishonest scapegoating of federal employees. Civil Servants cannot be blamed for the current economic downturn, which was caused by private sector and financial industry recklessness and greed along with a failure of federal regulatory oversight.”

The proposal under consideration would increase federal employees’ contributions to their pensions each pay period by as much as five times. Federal employees currently pay just under one percent of their salary to their pensions. The most radical proposal, endorsed by many Republicans, would increase that contribution to five percent of federal employees’ paychecks every pay period. The Unions argue that this is more than just an unfair attack on federal workers; it is a violation of the Administration’s pledge not to raise taxes on those making under $250,000 per year.

“Make no mistake about it, the proposed increase in federal employee payments is a payroll tax increase just as surely as any increase to social security payments would be.”

Reminding Biden that federal employees have already sacrificed two years worth of pay adjustments, the Unions let the Administration know that another dip at the federal employee well would be unacceptable.

“Last December, Labor took one for the team and tempered its criticism. We cannot be expected to stand idly by this time around….Federal workers have already sacrificed enormously with the two-year pay freeze, which represents up to a $50,000 dollar a year cut… for an individual employee over the next decade.”

Labor supports a shared sacrifice in order to bring our deficits and debt under control. This means cutting back on expensive tax subsidies for corporations that are raking in record profits and eliminating lawmakers’ wasteful pork barrel pet projects. Asking middle class federal workers to shoulder even more of the burden would spell disaster for them and their families. NFFE and our Sisters and Brothers in Labor promise to do everything we can to take your families’ futures off the bargaining table.

“We will fight any efforts to vilify these fine public servants who have dedicated their lives, and who sometimes give their lives, for their country. Their middle-class patriotism and commitment to public service should be rewarded, certainly not punished.”