The National Treasury Employees Union took a survey of 877 federal employees recently and found that 81 percent said morale has been declining since the hiring freeze. About 58 percent say their workload has increased, and 78 percent say they and their co-workers worry about job security. Many more worry about possible cuts to retirement programs and pay and benefits.
NTEU represents about 150,000 employees in 31 agencies. They are trying to make a case to lawmakers that a “well-resourced, happy, engaged federal workforce leads to better outcomes for American taxpayers”.
NTEU president Tony Reardon said the severe budget cuts surprised him. They were especially severe in the IRS, EPA, and State Department. The IRS already has experienced budget cuts recently, losing about $1 billion in funding and 17,000 full-time employees since 2010. NTEU represents about 75,000 IRS workers.
“When you know about the IRS budget and the impact it’s had, for example since 2010—the $1 billion cut in funding—and you know the impact it’s had on employees, you know the impact it’s had on the IRS’s ability to function, and then you hear about 2018, a 14 percent cut that’s going to result in about a $1 billion hit in one year?” Reardon said.
Securing fair pay, protecting retirement and healthcare benefits, and achieving agency missions are NTEU’s top priorities in 2017 to hopefully improve overall morale. They also plan on defending merit systems principles and rights.
NTEU has been working with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), ranking member of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, on a bill to improve training operations for federal managers. The IRS, for example, has seen an 85 percent cut to its training budget in recent years.