Anyone remember Twitter hashtag #WIunion in 2011? I do. Essentially, it represents one of the most epic union battles in the modern era, pitting newly elected Governor Scott Walker (R) against every public sector employee in the state and most private sector union members. The battle was marked by massive State Capitol demonstrations and even the takeover of the Capitol by demonstrators. At one point, in a disc jokey call in to the Governor’s office claiming to be a Koch brother, the Governor admitted to considering putting “plants” in the crowd to cause violence. All this during one of the coldest winter months in Wisconsin. Digressing; the battle was mainly over union rights and the future of pay and benefits of state public sector employees, who were being told their salary and benefits reductions would finance tax breaks and incentives to corporations in an effort to bring back employment (it did not work).
The take away for federal employees is this: YOU WERE WARNED you were next. Most federal employees and union officials I talked to viewed the Wisconsin labor battle as an abstract concept. Nevertheless, they failed to get the message- YOU ARE NEXT. As shown left, in a National Federation of Federal Employees publication published in 2011, some did get the message well in advance and even tried warning federal employees. Yet, federal employees, and even some top union officials, now act surprised.
Amazingly, even prior to sequestration and furlough threats, federal employees received a second clear early warning of what was to come. This time, they were warned through the introduction of real federal legislation by the GOP. This legislation specifically targeted pay and benefits of federal employees (including managers) and included: pay freezes for years, pay cuts through increased retirement contributions, premium increases across the board, high 3 to high 5 for retirement calculations, and elimination of supplemental retirement to name a few key points. Also of note, though not necessarily related to politics, some agencies are implementing major position downgrades affecting thousands (Veterans Administration to name one large agency) and/or eliminating certain forms of long-standing premium pay that has arguably become a condition of employment (Border Patrol Agent AUO and FLSA for example).
The Informed Fed is not a political site by any means. But my federal colleagues who are Republican must confront the simple fact that the Republican party alone is behind every single adverse piece of pay and benefits legislation. They, and they alone, are pushing this agenda.
So, don’t act so surprised anymore.