If you’re a federal employee who’s worried about new threats to your pay, benefits, retirement and workplace rights, you are not alone. A large slice of the federal workforce is just as apprehensive as you are.
You can fret, fume and worry about what the new Congress and administration have in store for the federal workforce, or you could do something about it by channeling your anxiety into positive action.
In an earlier post, I wrote about how it’s important for federal employees to join a union like the one I lead, especially at a time like this. Now, let me focus on another thing I constantly urge federal employees to do. And that is to take legislative action to protect your professional lives and futures as members of the world’s most professional civil workforce.
Express your concerns to your House and Senate members. Talk to them at town halls and other public events they hold in their districts. Let them know who you are and make them understand your concerns. Visit their offices in Washington or in their districts. Take part in letter-writing campaigns organized by your union. Learn more about your union’s Political Action Committee, whose aim is to elect members of Congress who value the contributions federal employees make every day to their country.
During the first quarter, the major federal employee unions outline their legislative agendas for the year and will work to educate members of Congress about those key issues. Here are some issues that have energized many federal employees in recent years:
- Securing a fair pay increase to begin the process of closing the gap between public and private-sector salaries
- Protecting federal retirement benefits and ensuring that Congress honors its commitment to provide the retirement packages that employees were promised
- Pushing Congress to give agencies the funding and other resources they need so employees have the tools and resources needed to provide critical services to the American people
- Working to defeat efforts labeled as civil service ‘reforms’ that are simply thinly disguised efforts to weaken employee rights and protections
- Safeguarding healthcare benefits for federal employees and working to implement commonsense changes that will help control costs.
Be bold, take action and do your part to protect your own future. Commit acts of self-defense now so you don’t regret staying passive if efforts are made to shred your pay, benefits, retirement and workplace protections. The best way to effect change on Capitol Hill is to join a union. Because then you will add your voice to the collective chorus. And a multitude of voices will accomplish a lot more than just one.
Tony Reardon is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here. Reardon is also National President of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 employees in 31 agencies.