WASHINGTON, Jan. 21, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. today applauded President Obama's State of the Union proposals extending economic support to working families and called on Congress to address pay and benefit gaps within the government's own workforce.
"Like so many other working families in this country, federal employees have faced stagnant wages, cuts in benefits, and reduced take-home pay," President Cox said. "They must not be left behind as Congress works to improve economic conditions for the middle class."
AFGE strongly supports legislation introduced earlier this month in the House and Senate that would provide federal employees with a 3.8 percent pay raise next year. Federal employees have seen their standard of living deteriorate thanks to a three-year pay freeze, unpaid furloughs, and higher retirement contributions for newer workers.
"For years, federal employees have been bearing the brunt of policies that put slashing the deficit ahead of creating new jobs, and lost $159 billion in earnings because of it," Cox said. "A 3.8 percent increase would provide employees with their first meaningful raise this decade."
Cox also thanked President Obama for including federal employees in his proposal to strengthen paid leave policies for working families. Obama is calling on Congress to pass legislation giving federal employees six weeks of paid parental leave, and he issued a directive last week enabling all federal employees to receive six weeks of advanced sick leave to care for a newborn or adopted child, help ill family members, or attend to similar matters.
"The federal government already reimburses its contractors for the cost of paid parental leave. It's time for government to extend these benefits to its own employees and serve as a model that all employers should follow," Cox said.
President Obama's speech also demonstrated the crucial role federal agencies and their employees play in ensuring the safety, security and success of all Americans.
"Federal employees are caring for our veterans, inspecting our food, keeping the air and water clean, researching cures to deadly diseases, and ensuring our safety and security at home and abroad," Cox said.
"Having a federal workforce that is fairly compensated and provided with the tools they need to do their jobs is key to carrying out all of the government's important work on behalf of the American people. I hope Congress keeps that in mind as it goes about its business in the weeks and months ahead."
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.
SOURCE American Federation of Government Employees