Standing Up for Federal Workers

From the AFL-CIO

Working people are the lifeblood of the federal government. They manage our parks, monitor our skies, fight deadly diseases and care for the most vulnerable among us. Yet, President Donald Trump has decided to target these committed public servants and their rights on the job.

The Trump administration’s actions against federal employees over the past few months have ranged from the shortsighted to the insidious:

  • Tasked with overseeing labor relations between the federal government and millions of working people, the Federal Labor Relations Authority has been unable to prosecute complaints because President Trump still hasn’t appointed a general counsel. Instead of allowing the FLRA to do its job, the White House has only worsened the backlog by shutting down two of the agency’s seven regional offices.
  • This month, the Department of Education threw out a collective bargaining agreement that already had been in effect, denying 3,900 workers their negotiated rights and protections. Attempting to bypass the negotiating table altogether, the administration implemented an illegal contract that had been soundly rejected by the membership.
  • Trump implemented an across-the-board ban on agency labor-management forums, eliminating a vehicle for conversations on issues as critical as workplace safety and sexual harassment.
  • The administration proposed a zero percent annual raise for federal workers.


Posted In: From AFL-CIO, Union Matters

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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A Friendly Reminder

A Friendly Reminder