What I Wonder...

I have always wondered - when politicians do something like this, do they actually believe in their hearts they are doing the right thing or do they fully know that they are cynically trying to appear to take action while actually doing absolutely nothing useful. The former may almost be scarier than the latter

OBAMA ASKS FEDERAL WORKERS TO SACRIFICE "” By 0.4 percent! "Citing the current economic recession "” and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks eight years ago "” President Obama says he will use emergency powers to cut the programmed across-the-board January increase in federal employees' pay from 2.4 percent to 2.0 percent, according to a letter he sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi"¦"

I have worked full time for 26 years.  Number of years I have had a programmed, guaranteed annual salary increase to be paid irregardless of my performance:  zero.

  • Michael

    I think it shows the irresponsible nature of government leaders to have unions workers. Cincinnati wants to lay off workers. The unions are suing the city to stop the lay offs on the grounds that the economy hasn't hurt city revenues. Ohio is an at will state. The city should be able to end employment at anytime just like any business in the private sector can.

  • K

    There will be complaints by the federal workers unions. But nothing like the fury that would arise if a Republican had done this.

    I am not sure Obama has the authority to withhold the raise or part of it. But that will be easily decided.

    Never fear, the workers will come out better off. Congress will quietly give them something to compensate: maybe more sick days or vacation. And probably pass it by unanimous consent the day they adjourn for the year end recess.

  • Bob Smith

    The unions are suing the city to stop the lay offs on the grounds that the economy hasn’t hurt city revenues.

    Since when is any employer, including a governmental unit, mandated to link revenue with staffing levels?

  • DrTorch

    Bob Smith:

    Since when is any employer, including a governmental unit, mandated to link revenue with staffing levels?

    I believe that's a common element to CBAs

  • Jim Evans

    It's very hard to feel sorry for the poor federal employees who may have to sacrifice .4% of their annual raise. The workplace benefits they receive are absurd.

    Take, for example, federal holidays that occur during the week. It is standard practice at the federal facility where I work for the head of the agency to grant an early release (usually 1pm or 2pm) on the day *prior* to the holiday. Eight-hour holidays are then extended to 11 or 12 hour holidays, and some people come in late on that day, knowing they'll be going home early. In addition, sometimes the President issues an early release for ALL federal employees.

    But contractors like me? We are required to stay on the job until we get our hours in. And we usually have to file a report stating what we worked on during hours in which the feds were not on-site. We've been unambiguously told that if we leave early, like the feds do, we're committing fraud. So we contractors can't defraud the government - but the government can defraud the taxpayers.

  • http://www.two--four.net/weblog.php Billy Beck

    I, myself, have worked for about sixteen hundred weeks.

    That's what I estimate looking back at thirty-two years of employment measured by the week because "job security" in my business turns that tightly on my own efficacy.

    "You're only as good as your last gig." (an adage, in my business)

    You cannot possibly imagine my contempt.

  • mahtso

    I've seen this story on a number of blogs and, frankly, I do not understand the uproar. I assume that some form of annual raise was part of the contract under which these employees were hired. And, I also assume that it is to compensate for disadvantages of working for the Government.

  • Not Sure

    And, I also assume that it is to compensate for disadvantages of working for the Government. - mahtso

    Now I'm curious. Which disadvantages might those be?

  • Bob Hawkins

    At the end of the Bush 41 administration, Congress passed the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act, FEPCA. Under FEPCA, federal workers should have gotten raises, above cost-of-living, amounting to 30% over 10 years.

    FEPCA had the usual provision that it could be suspended if the President declared an economic emergency. The Clinton administration officially declared such an emergency each of its last 7 years in office -- that's right, during the dotcom bubble. Federal workers missed out on a substantial raise. And their unions never uttered a sound. After all, it made a Democratic administration's budgets look better.

    So, as usual, Obama is just copying what previous administrations did.

  • Scott Wiggins

    Americans need to learn that government is a union in and of itself...Its workers will be paid more on average, have more holidays and will retire earlier with larger pension packages than non-government working Americans who pay their salaries after all...All Americans need to come to this understanding if we are ever going to start pushing back so that politicians begin listening. Ask yourself or better yet your government represenative why government has not participated productivity gains made possible by the information age? While businesses have increased productivity with the information age in which fewer workers produce more goods and services, government at all levels grows larger every year. My father joked about there being two supervisors for every worker at the Charleston Naval Shipyard where his brother was employed. That was forty years ago...More recently, as an active duty Marine I saw plenty of waste, fraud and abuse over twenty years. A perfect example would be the thousands of reservists called up after 9-11. Many of these reservists were based stateside and not at all involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, many of these "called up" Marines stayed on active duty for months and years doing not much other than taking some of the assignments that active duty Marines did as part of their normal duties. Every command wanted the extra manpower, and so commanders gladly completed the paperwork to keep their reservists...It was in large part a huge waste of taxpayer dollars. The military and the Marine Corps in particular generally give a lot of bang for the federal buck but even so the temptation for waste, fraud and abuse is still hard to resist...Its not their money after all. We need to begin pushing back against the government unions at all levels for we are becoming the serfs of the modern age...

  • mahtso

    Disadvantages of working for the government include: no profit sharing; few to no opportunities to earn bonuses; advancement opportunities are not necessarily based on merit, but often are based on rules set by bureaucrats; pay raises are not based on merit; unlike private industry, where ownership can use its resources to pay to take employees to a baseball game or hold a Christmas party, such use of government funds would likely be illegal; no employer money to be spent on coffee or other amenities that are common in private industry.

    I'd be surprised if the behavior Mr. Evans wrote about did not constitute a crime (by the supervisor and the employees, who presumably filed false time sheets). Many years ago I was working for state government and, although I do not recall if it was a rule or a statute, it was understood that if an employee made an improper expenditure of state money, the employee had to pay it back. So in Mr. Evans's example, the supervisor would have been required to repay the money that was spent in unearned pay.

    To read the comments (on this and other blogs) working for the government must be heaven, which makes me wonder why more people aren't trying to get those jobs.

  • Rick C

    "You cannot possibly imagine my contempt."

    Billy, I think anyone who's seen your writing can guess.

    Note that this is not intended as an insult.

  • perlhaqr

    Which disadvantages might those be?

    Nigh universal disdain from people who actually work for a living? Must be very hard on their self-esteem.

  • Not Sure

    Just to take a couple...

    "Disadvantages of working for the government include: no profit sharing; few to no opportunities to earn bonuses;"

    How many private companies do you imagine are providing profit sharing or bonuses to their employees these days? People are fortunate if they get to keep their jobs. On the other hand, lots of government workers get to retire in their 50s with a pension that can be nearly equal to their last paycheck.

    "advancement opportunities are not necessarily based on merit, but often are based on rules set by bureaucrats; pay raises are not based on merit;"

    One word- unions. Government workers have them, and unions don't like basing pay on merit. Try getting a merit pay proposal for school teachers passed. Let me know how it turns out, will you?

  • tomw

    I can testify from experience that the President can delay pay raises and promotions in the military.

    Where is the "low pay for government workers"? See:
    http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2009/08/another-grim-milestone-federal-workers-now-make-twice-what-private-workers-earn.html

    from August 24,2009

    tom

  • mahtso

    Although I answered Not Sure’s question, I had a suspicion that he did not really want an exchange of information, but rather a chance to nit-pick. His answer confirmed my suspicion. Of course, maybe I am projecting:

    “How many private companies do you imagine are providing profit sharing or bonuses to their employees these days? People are fortunate if they get to keep their jobs. On the other hand, lots of government workers get to retire in their 50s with a pension that can be nearly equal to their last paycheck.”

    Whether or not profit sharing and bonuses are prevalent in bad economic times does not change the fact that these are (virtually) non-existent for government workers at any time.

    I don’t see how layoffs in the private sector are relevant to disadvantages of government work. But, to the extent these could be relevant: the city, county and state in which I live are all laying off workers, so it would appear to be a wash from a comparative standpoint. (The state is also enforcing mandatory time off without pay.)

    Accepting as true that government workers can retire at 50, this is may be advantage to government work but does not say anything about the disadvantages. And I have read autoworkers can also retire at 50 so that would also appear to be a wash (leaving aside that autoworkers may actually mean government workers now).

    “ ‘advancement opportunities are not necessarily based on merit, but often are based on rules set by bureaucrats; pay raises are not based on merit;’ One word- unions. Government workers have them, and unions don’t like basing pay on merit. Try getting a merit pay proposal for school teachers passed. Let me know how it turns out, will you?”

    This appears to concede the point and gives a (purported) reason for a disadvantage of government work. (Whether or not that reason is valid I have no idea. And I have no desire to try to institute a merit pay system for teachers or any other government workers.)