IRS union members rally against the GOP
Moving indoors to escape the heavy Washington rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the National Treasury Employees Union. Members protested over legislative attempts to cut federal pay and retirement benefits at the “Working for a Stronger America” rally. (Medill on the Hill)
In 2011 over 500 federal employees of the National Treasury Employees Union held a rally with Democrats to bash Republicans and Bush.
Medill on the Hill
More than 500 federal employees piled into the Capitol Visitor Center after rally organizers scrapped the original setting. The passionate audience welcomed Democratic lawmakers and NTEU President Colleen Kelley as they listed the grievances of the federal workforce and encouraged the union to spread the message.
In particular, Kelley expressed disappointment over the two-year pay freeze on federal employees imposed by President Barack Obama, which Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., called “wrong.”
“You shouldn’t have had those freezes,” he said. “You didn’t cause this deficit…Don’t pick on the federal workforce; that’s wrong.”
A chorus of boos echoed through the packed auditorium when former President George W. Bush and the Republican Party were fingered as the culprits at blame for the ailing economy. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., said Republicans favored the wealthy and insisted on using the middle class workers as a “nice piggy bank,” which would “make up for their Bush tax cuts, their unpaid-for wars and their corporate tax breaks.”
The union was particularly opposed to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approval in early February of a bill that would increase pension contributions for federal workers and cut pay. Although the bill has not been passed by the House, it calls for federal workers to pay an additional 1.5 percent toward their retirement.
And, after the election last year the IRS union was eager to congratulate President Obama on his big win.
From the NTEU website:
The leader of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) today applauded the re-election of President Barack Obama.
“NTEU supported the re-election of President Obama as being in the best interests of our country and of the dedicated men and women of the federal workforce,” said NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley. “NTEU is also pleased that so many of our candidates for Senate seats and our staunchest supporters in the House won their races.”
NTEU’s efforts on behalf of President Obama and key candidates spanned the country. “Our 2012 election plan has been in place since the beginning of the year,” said President Kelley. “Many chapters and members were actively involved educating and organizing various types of activities around the country including candidate nights and volunteering for campaigns.”
NTEU’s efforts focused on battleground states where races for the presidency, Senate and House seats were competitive and where the union has substantial numbers of NTEU members including Virginia, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana.
In the days before the election, NTEU members volunteered for phone-banking and canvassing, with a particular focus on contacting other NTEU members and urging them to vote for candidates who support federal employees and federal employee issues.
“Federal employees heard our message loud and clear that everything about the lives of the federal workforce is determined by those elected to office,” said Kelley.
Unlike his opponent in the presidential election, Kelley said, the president is keenly aware of the risks to the effective delivery of vital government services posed by proposals to sharply reduce the federal workforce and cut the budgets of federal agencies.
“In a very real sense, these are make-or-break issues for our country,” Kelley said. “Federal agencies simply must have the resources and personnel they need to carry out their missions,” she added, noting the effective work of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the wake of the storm that battered the east coast in late October.
With Congress reconvening next week, the NTEU leader emphasized that the union will now focus its immediate attention on the interests of federal employees as the lame-duck session of Congress prepares to address key financial issues, including avoiding sequestration.
Related… President Obama met with anti-Tea Party IRS union chief in the White House the day before the agency targeted the Tea Party.