A group that aims to raise the profile of federal employees and their work hopes to hold a public forum soon with Republican George Allen, who is running for Senate in Virginia.
The Allen campaign is interested in having a town hall with feds and retirees before the November election, according to Jessica Klement, who chairs a campaign launched by the Federal Postal-Coalition to educate the public about the federal workforce and led by the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association. The Federal-Postal Coalition is made up of 30 national unions and associations representing millions of federal employees, retirees and postal workers.
Klement said the America Counts on Us campaign is working with Allen’s team to set up a forum similar to one held recently in Arlington, Va., with Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine. About 100 people attended that event. Virginia is home to 300,000 federal employees, an important political constituency at the local, state and national levels.
Allen spokeswoman Emily Davis said the campaign has been in touch with the group about setting up an event, but no date has been scheduled yet.
Klement, the communications and legislative representative for NARFE, said the America Counts on Us campaign wants to hold similar conversations across the country with candidates from both parties to discuss issues important to federal employees and retirees. The events could be similar to the Kaine forum or more informal sit-downs with candidates. “Whatever works with the people we want to speak with as well as our members,” she said.
The purpose behind the America Counts on Us initiative is “to let people know that federal employees are not the faceless Washington bureaucrats like some candidates tell you,” she added. “They are your neighbors, they are your postmen.”
Allen, a former Virginia governor and senator who lost his Senate seat in 2006, referred to government regulators as “sanctimonious social engineers” in a December 2011 campaign debate with Kaine. On Allen’s campaign website he proposes as part of his Blueprint for America’s Comback getting rid of “automatic” pay raises for federal employees and lawmakers and putting in place a governmentwide hiring freeze, except for combat troops, to “stop the expansion of bureaucracy,” leaving discretion to prioritize personnel decisions. He also suggests offering federal workers a one-time bonus if they help cut government spending and save taxpayer money.