WASHINGTON – Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer spoke to close to 200 members of the National Treasury Employee’s Union (NTEU) today at a rally at the Capitol. Hoyer talked to the NTEU members about ways to ensure that federal civilian employees receive the same annual pay adjustment that President Bush has proposed for the military and other issues important to federal employees. Following are Rep. Hoyer’s remarks as prepared for delivery.
“We have a busy and important year ahead of us. First, we must ensure that federal civilian employees receive the same 3.5% annual salary adjustment that President Bush has proposed for the military.
“President Bush’s proposal to provide only 1.5% to federal civilian employees is simply unacceptable. I have expressed my dissatisfaction in a very public manner and am hopeful we will achieve ‘pay parity.’
“However, achieving pay parity will not be easy this year. Indeed, there is without question more opposition to it this year than ever before. We simply cannot afford to take pay-parity for granted this year.
“As you visit offices this week, please urge members to support H. Con. Res. 356. This legislation, which I introduced last month, will send a strong message that pay parity is essential.
“We must also be vigilant on the administration’s A-76 outsourcing initiatives. As you know, we had only mixed success rolling back these initiatives in the 2004 appropriations process.
“Competitive outsourcing can work only when competition between federal employees and private contractors takes place on a level playing field.
“We must also address the issue of increasing insurance premiums. One of the incentives for working for the federal government is affordable, comprehensive insurance coverage. As many of you know, I have a bill in the house, HR 577, that would control the rising cost of premiums by increasing the government’s contribution to the Federal Employees Health Benefits programs.
“We must also resist this administration’s efforts to weaken collective bargaining rights and civil service protections. Nowhere is this assault on workers’ rights more pronounced than at the Department of Homeland Security.
“Strong workers’ rights and protections are all we have to ensure your work is compensated fairly and performed in a professional, non-partisan manner.
“Finally, we must resist the IRS’s announced plans to conduct a ‘reduction in force’ of roughly 1,600 IRS case processing and insolvency support employees in 92 locations across the country and hire 1,200 new employees to do the same work in four consolidated IRS service centers sites.
“We have been told the IRS intends to save money and increase efficiency with this drastic proposal, and then add to the ranks of enforcement personnel. But there is no evidence of cost savings. Moreover, the IRS has failed to provide information on how local taxpayers will be affected once the regional offices close.
“The IRS is among the most sensitive agencies in our government, touching the lives of every family. It must not be used as a laboratory to test a potentially reckless and far-reaching proposal.
“The best way to deliver public services efficiently and save taxpayer money is to attract and retain the best and brightest to government service, not discourage them. That is the message we must send to the White House and this Congress. With your energy, we can succeed.”