Federal union workers rally for 'good government'

Federal union workers gathered in Washington on Tuesday to rally for higher wages and fewer federal spending cuts.

“Asking federal workers to do more with less, that’s wrong,” Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinThe Secure Act makes critical reforms to our retirement system — let's pass it this year Lawmakers honor JFK on 56th anniversary of his death Senate Democrats ask Pompeo to recuse himself from Ukraine matters MORE (D-Md.) said.

“We’ve got to fight for you, so you’re fighting for us because government works for America.”

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Echoing Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSupreme Court poised to hear first major gun case in a decade Protecting the future of student data privacy: The time to act is now Overnight Health Care: Crunch time for Congress on surprise medical bills | CDC confirms 47 vaping-related deaths | Massachusetts passes flavored tobacco, vaping products ban MORE (D-Ill.), Cardin went on to call on Congress to respect federal employees and give them a fair shot by raising wages.

“People want social security, people want veterans health care, people want the mail delivered, people want clean air, they want safe food,” said the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) President J. David Cox Sr. 

“This is about good government today and reminding Congress that they must fund these agencies in order to have good government for the American people.”

The rally, which included representatives from AFL-CIO, the National Association of Letter Carriers and the American Postal Workers Union, comes at a time when about 1,000 AFGE members are in Washington, D.C. for the group's annual legislative conference.

Pending legislation poses further threats to federal workers who say their jobs, salaries and retirement benefits have already taken a hit.

Jennifer Gum, president of AFGE Local 85 of Leavenworth, Kan., was in Washington on Tuesday with fellow union members to ask her House representative to vote no on H.B. 417. The Federal Workforce Reduction Through Attrition Act, introduced by Cynthia LummisCynthia Marie LummisLiz Cheney leads GOP field by 20 points in potential Wyoming Senate race: poll Liz Cheney and Rand Paul extend war of words Pressure rises on Cheney to make decision MORE (R-Wyo.) and Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) would limit the number of new federal employees hired to one for every three retirees

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“That eliminates 33 percent of government jobs,” she said.

Lummis and Mulvaney’s bill aims to save an estimated $35 billion over five years without forcing any current federal employees out of a job.

“We’ve racked up over $18 trillion in debt simply because Washington has no idea when to stop spending,” Lummis said in a statement.

“Instead of blindly filling empty desks, this bill forces agencies to take a step back, consider which positions are crucial, and make decisions based on necessity rather than luxury,” she later added.

But Cox said there are less federal employees now then there has been in the past.

“We have tightened our belts,” he said. “Federal employees have given $159 billion to the deficit reduction. We have done our part it is now time to restore good government services.”