(WASHINGTON) – The president of the nation’s largest federal employees union says he is not surprised by a recent federal employee viewpoint survey by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that shows a decline in employee morale and thinks President Obama and Congress should do something about it.
J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), said “OPM can now confirm that which we already know. The negative impact of the two and a half year federal pay freeze, using federal employees as Congress’ go-to ATM as offsets for other programs, and the deteriorating workplace conditions caused by declining agency budgets, as shown in the survey results, have become too much to bear.”
The survey reported that federal employees are now less willing to recommend their jobs to others and are less passionate about their workplace than private sector workers – citing a lack of innovation, recognition of good work, and strong leadership from the senior members of their agencies.
“These are the things that do not promote a well-trained and capable workforce,” said President Cox. “The stakes are very high. It is essential that the fiscal cliff negotiations do not increase the sacrifices federal employees have already made to deficit reduction – over $103 billion so far – from pay freezes to tax increases on their pensions,” he said.
Despite pay and morale issues, federal employees remain committed. Almost 90 percent of the 687,000 workers surveyed (the largest sample yet) believe their jobs are essential. Cox pointed to the example of Superstorm Sandy where employees at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Coast Guard, and several other federal agencies played a crucial role in providing relief to the millions of Americans affected by the storm. “Our members provide critical services to the American public every day from food inspection to supporting our troops and do not deserve more cuts to their pay or benefits,” Cox said.
Furthermore, Cox said the morale issue should be addressed through better employee-manager relations and is urging OPM to reinvigorate its labor management forums.
“It is crucial that labor and management work together to solve problems and accomplish the mission while maintaining employee rights and protections,” Cox said. “A positive labor-management relationship saves money that might otherwise be spent in litigation and appeals; improves employee morale; and uses time more effectively as frontline employees, their union representatives, and managers bring their ideas, expertise, and efforts together towards common goals.”