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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Union: Romney's Pay Claim 'Ridiculous'

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Jae C. Hong/AP

American Federation of Government Employees President John Gage is not happy that Mitt Romney chose the moment of his de facto victory in the race for the Republican presidential nomination to lament the "unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve."

In a letter to Romney, Gage laid into the presumptive nominee, accusing him of "spreading false claims as facts and tarnishing the image of government workers to score political points."

Some excerpts from the letter:

AFGE members are outraged by your recent comments disparaging government workers. You know what's really unfair? The specter of having a new boss who thinks so little about the work that you do that he can't bother getting his facts straight before making the ridiculous and patently false claim that federal workers are "getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve."

 

As the head of the largest federal employee union, representing more than 650,000 federal workers who live in rural towns and cities all across America, let me set a few things straight for you. More than half of these decent, hardworking, middle-class Americans earn less than $70,000 a year, and one-fourth earn less than $50,000. Decades of research by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics has consistently proven that federal employees earn less than their private sector counterparts.

Tell me this: Do you think the meat and poultry inspector who earns less than $32,000 a year while protecting Americans from E. Coli and other deadly diseases is making too much? How about the correctional officer who earns less than $39,000 a year while guarding ruthless gang leaders in understaffed federal penitentiaries? And do you really think that the VA nursing assistant who earns just over $27,000 a year providing care to veterans who have come home with serious psychological trauma is living the high life?

Unlike the millionaires and billionaires you seem most interested in serving, federal employees don't have a golden parachute waiting for them when they retire. The vast majority of a federal employee's retirement income comes from personal investments in the government's 401(k) plan and mandatory payments into Social Security. Yes, they also receive a modest pension when they retire. But I can think of nothing more unfair than a company failing to provide their employees with even a tiny nest egg to supplement an employee's own savings and meager Social Security income.

 

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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