Unions want repeal of federal pension cuts

Federal employee unions called on lawmakers Wednesday to repeal pension cuts for new federal workers after Congress voted last week to end military pension cuts in December’s budget deal.

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox said reversing retirement cuts for new federal workers is only fair.

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“Slashing retirement benefits for military veterans under the guise of fiscal austerity was an error that Congress and the president rightly have corrected. Now it’s time to fix another mistake by repealing similar budget cuts targeting newly hired federal employees,” Cox said.

National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley also called for an end to the cuts.

“NTEU strongly believes the pension contribution increase for federal workers should be overturned. The pension contribution increase diminishes the government’s position when competing for the most highly qualified candidates for federal service,” she said. “Federal workers have contributed more than $138 billion to deficit reduction and economic recovery. This is more than any other group in the country has been asked to sacrifice.”

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Reversing the federal worker cuts will likely be a tall order. The military pension changes sparked widespread outrage among Republicans as well as Democrats while Republicans have lauded the federal worker cuts.

The December budget deal, forged by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) turned off some sequestration cuts for fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2015 in exchange for $85 billion in total cuts over 10 years. Ryan touted the retiree cuts as one of the best and most concrete reforms in the plan.

Under the budget, new hires in 2014 were required to increase their retirement paycheck contributions to 4.4 percent of their salary, up from 0.8 percent for  workers hired before 2013. 

“Congress has created a second-class and third-class retirement system in which new federal employees earn less than their peers for no other reason than the date they were hired,” Cox said.

The military pension cuts were reversed by extending sequestration cuts to Medicare into 2024. It passed the Senate on a 95 to 3 vote after passing the House on a 326 – 90 vote and was signed by President Obama on Saturday.