Unions Warn of Low Morale, Retirement Wave Amid Continued Budget Uncertainty

“Federal employees are not going to forget what happened in the last 16 days,” NTEU's Colleen Kelley said. “They are concerned about what the future will hold.” “Federal employees are not going to forget what happened in the last 16 days,” NTEU's Colleen Kelley said. “They are concerned about what the future will hold.” AFGE

This story has been updated. 

Federal employees returning to work after the 16-day government shutdown are dealing with low morale, increased workloads and uncertainty about future funding, the leader of a federal employee union said Thursday.

These factors will motivate eligible employees to retire, Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said on a conference call. For those who remain, NTEU has set a series of four priorities to mitigate the negative impact of the shutdown.

NTEU emphasized that as feds made their way back into their offices Thursday, they were forced to deal with the backlog of work that piled up during the shutdown while also keeping an eye on the next deadline.

“Federal employees are not going to forget what happened in the last 16 days,” Kelley said. “They are concerned about what the future will hold.”

On a separate call Thursday, American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox also said employees returned to work with apprehension about the future.

“They are not breaking out the party hats,” Cox said. 

First among NTEU’s priorities, the union hopes to ensure the timely delivery of retroactive compensation for federal employees whose paychecks were withheld during the shutdown. Most employees -- including those who were working but not getting paid on time and those who were furloughed -- will receive the back pay in their next paychecks on Oct. 25. Kelley said she was fighting to bump up that schedule.

Cox also called for the immediate issuance of back pay, and said the Social Security Administration has already agreed to run a separate payroll delivery early next week. 

The unions will also monitor re-immersion in the workplace to ensure agencies do not put undue pressure on their employees. NTEU plans to keep up the pressure on Congress to fund government for the rest of the fiscal year, as the current continuing resolution agreed to late Wednesday night only keeps government operating through Jan. 15.

Absent a broader budget deal “this could all happen again,” Kelley said. She added Congress should eliminate sequestration cuts and appropriate sufficient funds to allow agencies to accomplish their missions.

As lawmakers strive to reach such a deal, federal employees should not again fall victim to efforts to reduce federal spending.

“Federal employees have suffered way too much already,” Kelley said.

This suffering has not been without consequence. Employees who are eligible to retire will walk away because they “don’t want to go through this again in January,” Kelley said. The empty seats will then go unfilled, as federal agencies are using attrition to cut their workforces, she added.

Also on the unions’ radar is President Obama’s plan to raise federal employees’ pay by 1 percent in 2014, which the shutdown deal allows to go into effect. While Congress can still block the measure, AFGE said staffers on the House Appropriations Committee do not expect a challenge. 

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.