Do Federal workers actually work 55 days a year? NATIONAL MEDIA – Where does a “20 percent pay cut” figure come?

TODAY American federal workers begin taking furloughs – 11 days off without pay – until September. It is said the furloughs represent “20 percent of their pay.”
This figure has been batted around since way back in 2011 … and then at the end of the year in 2012, when the devil was going to erupt from boiling seas and wreak havoc on the Department of Defense if the Federal Government hit that “fiscal cliff” of mandated budget cuts. 
Well the cuts came. Where is Satan?
The Pentagon, and every other federal agency is having to furlough workers, but somehow this 20 percent pay cut figure hangs out there. 
In reality, based on a 250 work week, a 20 percent pay cut would mean furloughed workers – or people given a one day a week unpaid vacation – would have to take 50 days off their work sked. Most people work 260 work days a year, not counting leave time, which many Americans do not get. 
Federal holidays amount to 10 per year, and all government employees are allotted those, even if they work they get a “day off” some time else. 
There is no way 11 days off comes anywhere near 20 percent the federal work year. It is about 4.23 percent. That’s right, not even a 5 percent cut, and no where in the ballpark of 20 percent. 
Yet it keeps being reported as a flat (Earth) figure of 20 percent. 
Having been a newspaper writer for 18 years, and an editor for two years, mostly covering the US Federal Government and the Pentagon, I understand actual hard figures are not always easy to get from our government representatives – elected or otherwise. I think this figure came from a union or a trade organization for federal workers and it has just hung around without anybody challenging it. 
It could be 20 percent of their pay for three months, but nobody reports it that way, and, if so, then it is a misleading figure. 
Either way, I don’t like the fact federal workers are getting the shaft on 11 days of pay. I have lived near, or in the shadow, of major federal installations all my life, and any pay cut is not good, especially when they haven’t had a real raise in three years. 
But they are not taking a 20 percent pay cut. Unless they actually work 55 days a year, and that is just not the case. I know people like to run down government workers, but most are hard workers and industrious. 
Even at that, they are not taking 20 cents off every dollar because of budget morons on Capitol Hill. 
It is slightly over 4 percent.

From a story in The Washington Post that ran 02/20/2013

Budget cuts could result in up to 20 percent pay cut for federal workers

By Joe Davidson,February 20, 2013

“When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”

— East African proverb

As the White House and Congress, Republicans and Democrats, trade blows over who is at fault for the looming across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester, it is federal workers who will get hit. 

With Congress appearing incapable of avoiding $85 billion in automatic cuts by the March 1 deadline, agencies are preparing to force unpaid furlough days on workers that could cost them up to a fifth of their pay.

Those workers must be asking themselves what would happen if they missed such an important deadline, for the second time in as many months. They know what would happen, but the staff can’t punish Congress, no matter how much that might be warranted.

In a notice to employees Wednesday, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said he is “deeply concerned about the potential direct impact of sequestration on you and your families,” before warning them that should “sequestration occur and continue for a substantial period, DoD will be forced to place the vast majority of its civilian workforce on administrative furlough.”

About 800,000 Defense Department civilians could face 22 unpaid leave days, spread out over as many weeks, amounting to a 20 percent pay cut over that period.

Because work requirements will not fall, Panetta said in a letter to the Senate, “the workload on each employee . . . will be increased beyond what can reasonably be achieved.”

Although Panetta had previously announcedthe number of furloughs, the department’s latest notice made J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, hot.

“These employees aren’t some fat cat bureaucrats in a plush Washington office,” he said. “They are the firefighters who safeguard our bases, the health-care professionals who treat injured soldiers in military hospitals, the mechanics who repair our tanks and planes, the logistics personnel who ensure supplies make it to our troops, the acquisition experts who prevent big defense contractors from ripping off taxpayers.”

He urged “Congress to find a solution to this manufactured crisis that does not punish our hard-working federal employees, cripple our economic recovery or gut federal programs and services.” 

In letters to Capitol Hill and labor organizations and in congressional testimony, other agencies also have informed lawmakers of the impact sequestration would have on employees, as well as services:

Agriculture: Plans to furlough about one-third of its workforce, which would lead to “a nationwide shutdown of meat and poultry plants during a furlough of inspection personnel.”

Commerce: “Up to 2,600 NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) employees would have to be furloughed, approximately 2,700 positions would not be filled, and the number of contractors would have to be reduced by about 1,400.” Census vacancies would remain vacant.

Justice: “The Department estimates that it would lose the equivalent of more than 1,000 federal agents . . . as well as 1,300 correctional officers.”

“The FBI is faced with furloughing all personnel, including agents and intelligence analysts, for up to 14 days, as well as implementing a hiring freeze. This would have the equivalent effect of cutting approximately 2,285 onboard employees, including 775 Special Agents.”

Among Justice agencies, nearly 36,700 Bureau of Prisons workers face furlough for an average of 12 days, 5,100 U.S. marshals for up to 13 days and all civil division employees for up to seven days.

Education: The sequester “would likely require the Department to furlough many of its own employees for multiple days.”

Energy: “Sequestration would affect thousands of jobs among Federal, contractor and grant awardee personnel.”

Homeland Security: “Sequestration would necessitate furloughs of up to 14 days for a significant portion of our frontline law enforcement personnel, and could potentially result in reductions in force at the Department.”

The Transportation Security Administration “would need to initiate a hiring freeze for all TSO [transportation security officer] positions in March, eliminate overtime, and furlough its 50,000 officers for up to seven days.”

Secret Service agents and uniform personnel would face furloughs of up to seven days.

“Beginning April 1, CBP [Customs and Border Protection] would have to reduce its work hours by the equivalent of over 5,000 Border Patrol agents and the equivalent of over 2,750 CBP Officers.”

CBP would “implement an agency-wide furlough of up to fourteen (14) non-consecutive work days for each employee.”

Housing and Urban Development: “Furloughs or other personnel actions may well be required to comply with cuts mandated by sequestration.”

Interior: Sequesters would limit the department’s “ability to sustain a full complement of seasonal employees needed for firefighting, law enforcement and visitor services.”
NASA: Some inspector general vacancies would go unfilled.

National Science Foundation: The agency would have to cut nearly 1,000 research grants.

Social Security Administration: Sequestration would lead to more than 5,000 positions lost through attrition and termination of more than 1,500 temporary and other employees and a general elimination of overtime.

Transportation: The “vast majority” of the Federal Aviation Administration’s nearly 47,000 employees would be furloughed for about one day per pay period through September.

Treasury: “Most Treasury employees would face furloughs, which would have a cascading effect on employees’ families as well as on the economy at large. The effects would be particularly painful at the IRS. . . . Other bureaus would impose hiring freezes and cut costs such as travel and training, but “these actions would not be sufficient to avoid furloughs entirely as we already would be five months into the fiscal year.”

The cuts would be severe and unsparing.

The reaction of Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, spoke for many: “With the grave consequences so clear to so many people, organizations and vital government programs, it is hard to believe Congress will choose to pursue this wrong-headed course.”


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