NTEU Top Stories

Reardon Testifies about Workplace Problems at Key Energy Agency

PRESS RELEASE February 5, 2020


Washington D.C. – Perennial threats to agency funding, persistent staffing shortages and attacks on the federal workforce are impeding the vital scientific research and economic development work of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, NTEU National President Tony Reardon told Congress today.

“The scientists, mathematicians and engineers who work in this office could be earning much larger paychecks elsewhere but chose a career in civil service out of a desire to serve their country,” Reardon said.

Reardon testified before a joint hearing of the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, and the Subcommittee on Energy. The hearing was about management and spending challenges within the EERE.


According to the Department of Energy, over 12 years the taxpayer investment at EERE of $20 billion has yielded a net economic impact of $230 billion by supporting research and development that is used in advanced manufacturing, biofuels, modernizing the national power grid, electric cars, solar power and wind energy. 


But for three straight years, the administration has proposed cuts of at least 70 percent to the office’s budget. If enacted, the cuts would have crippled the mission, undercut the work in support of private sector growth and investment, and forced layoffs. NTEU and our allies in Congress successfully blocked those cuts every year, but the instability is unsettling for employees.


“EERE exemplifies a hallmark of our country: the willingness to push the envelope of research. The federal employees who work in this office should be commended, not pink-slipped,” Reardon said.


The agency has had some difficulty maintaining staffing levels. EERE is currently operating with only 553 full-time equivalents, down from 710 in January 2017. Reardon said the agency’s efforts to fill vacancies have been slow.


“In addition, the lack of adequate staffing has resulted in fewer site visits to monitor and ensure projects funded by EERE are on track. Employees cannot visit as many places with the higher workload they bear, which also adversely impacts the economic benefit provided by EERE,” Reardon said.


Reardon also testified about the pay gap between federal employees and their private sector counterparts; the frequent attempts to cut retirement benefits and make health insurance more expensive; and the broader threat to employee rights included in the president’s 2018 executive orders.


“Imposing anti-worker policies that eliminate fair and equitable treatment and instead create a culture of fear and mistrust is no way to attract and retain talented workers,” Reardon said.


Finally, NTEU reaffirmed its support for H.R. 1709, the Scientific Integrity Act, to ensure that the work of federal scientists is not subjected to unwarranted political influence.


“Because of the highly skilled nature of work at EERE and the incredible talent of its employees, nothing has the potential to impact morale, recruitment and retention at EERE more than outside, political interference in their fact-based work,” Reardon said.


NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.  



2021 Pay Raise 

 

NTEU Endorses 3.5 Percent Pay Raise for Federal Employees in 2021  

Washington D.C. – Federal employees would receive an average 3.5 percent pay raise in 2021 under legislation introduced in the House and Senate today and endorsed by the National Treasury Employees Union.


The Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act, sponsored by Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii in the Senate and by Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia in the House, would raise the standard of living for thousands of middle-class families across the country.


“Sen. Schatz and Rep. Connolly have been advocates, year in and year out, of helping our nation’s civil servants be able to pay their bills, invest in their children’s education and save for retirement,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “Our members will be fully engaged in the effort to pass this bill into law and give federal employees the ability to keep doing what they love: serving the public.”

Federal employees on average earn 26.71 percent less than their counterparts in the private sector, according to a November report by the Federal Salary Council, a key metric in determining federal pay raises. A 3.5 percent pay increase in 2021 would help address this shortfall.


“Federal employees are honored to have in their corner Sen. Schatz, Rep. Connolly and all of the cosponsors of the FAIR Act, who understand that a modest pay raise would go a long way toward recruiting and retaining highly skilled professionals in the federal workforce,” Reardon said. 


Since 1990, the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA) has recognized the need to bring federal government salaries more in line with the private sector in order to compete for workers, and a 3.5 percent average increase in 2021 would help narrow the gap.


NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments. 

 

A Historic Achievement: Paid Parental leave for Federal Employees 


Press Release January 31, 2017



Washington D.C. – The federal government will now be a more family-friendly employer with the historic approval of a paid parental leave program giving frontline civil servants the financial security to be at home during one of the most crucial times of their lives. 


A 12-week paid parental leave program for federal employees is part of the defense policy bill that was passed by the Senate today and awaits the president’s signature into law. Starting in October 2020, federal employees will be able to use the paid leave for the birth, adoption or fostering of a child.


“History will rightly record this moment when the federal government finally gave its workforce the ability to welcome a new child into their homes without sacrificing their financial well-being,” Reardon said. “This is one of the most consequential workplace benefits granted to federal employees in many, many years and NTEU is honored to have been a part of this important movement.”

NTEU first endorsed Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s paid parental leave legislation in 2000 and has worked hard ever since to build an expanding base of support on Capitol Hill.


“For too long, federal employees have scrambled to find enough sick or annual or unpaid leave to spend a few precious weeks with their new children. Even worse, many were forced to go back to work before they – or their family – were ready, because they needed the paycheck,” Reardon said. “Soon, those days will be over as mothers and fathers will no longer have to choose between their loved ones and their paycheck.”


NTEU recently surveyed members and several told us their stories about how paid parental leave could have helped them and their families:


From a federal employee who was two months away from the birth of her child: “I know that once I am on leave, I have to choose between bonding with my newborn and coming back to work early because I have to take care of my family financially. It’s a hard decision because if I choose to stay home with my child, I risk being in financial hardship. Twelve weeks paid leave would take away the extra stress and worry not only for me but for my family as a whole.”


From a federal employee who used almost all of her paid leave when her child was born: “If we ever wanted to have a second child I would have to take that time unpaid or I would have to rely on the generosity of others for a donation. I don’t know that we could afford a second child under the circumstances. Paid parental leave would help ease some of that stress.”


From a federal employee who had two babies in the last nine years: “Each time I took a combination of leave without pay, sick leave and annual leave. Returning to work with no leave accruals and missing a few paychecks was hard emotionally, financially and physically on my family.”


Reardon said paid parental leave is a smart, progressive way to recruit and retain the next generation of federal employees.


“It’s hard enough for the federal government to compete against the higher salaries in the private sector, but especially for younger workers, paid parental leave becomes an additional incentive to pursue a career in public service,” National President, Reardon said.


NTEU will continue to advocate for a broader paid family leave program that would help employees take time off to care for seriously ill family members.

NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.



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