I Challenge Any Lawmaker to Walk A Day In Our Shoes

I am a single young woman without any children, so I can only imagine the hardships families and single parents are now encountering with this pay freeze. I myself had to give up my independence and move back in with my parents because I simply couldn’t make ends meet anymore with my salary coming in (minus TSP, life insurance, health insurance etc. – almost 1/2 of my pay check is gone before I even see it) and student loans, rent, utilities, car insurance and maintenance, food, toiletries, other household expenses, etc going out. Knowing how this pay freeze has affected me, I can’t sympathize enough with the families who have young children who are struggling even more than I am.

None of these lawmakers have any idea what a typical field office worker endures day after day with an increasingly violent and dissatisfied public. To add insult to injury, they freeze our pay. I know we don’t make as much as we could in the private sector, and I am content with that as we do a major service to the public; however, to not give federal civilian employees their due for the harassment and attitudes we suffer with is a major blow to our morale. Now, with the talk of cutting back staffing to 2008 levels, our public will be even less satisfied with our services. Hearings backlogs will become astronomical again, disability processing times will increase, and important, time-sensitive post-entitlement material will not be processed as timely as it should be.

I would challenge any lawmaker to walk a day in our shoes and see, first-hand, the attitude of the public upon walking into a federal building. No longer does being a federal employee give a sense of pride – that has been replaced with fear. I work in a very small Social Security field office, and we are currently dealing with a dangerous man who threatens us daily via fax, email, phone calls, etc.; we are no longer seen as those who help, but as those who hurt. And our reward for this fear has been a pay freeze.

Erica Powell
AFGE Local 1923
Social Security Administration, Pennsylvania

About Union Blog

a blog for AFGE's members and employees to communicate their opinions in a forum with each other
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1 Response to I Challenge Any Lawmaker to Walk A Day In Our Shoes

  1. carol fehner says:

    As a retired Federal Employee I know how even a small increase in retirement pay can make living easier. I pay over $400 per month for my health insurance. I still pay taxes. My utility bills and all my other necessary payments go up each month; yet my pension income has not increased in over two years. The impact of pay freezes on current employees contemplating retirement will be severe. It will affect their retirement income for their entire lives.

    Despite that, I was very proud to talk to a friend yesterday about her recent experiences with SSA staff. She was impressed with their kindness, consideration, and professionalism. In her time of need she found help delivered in a very personal way. This kind of work is typical of SSA employees and has been for over 30 years. We can look with pride on our long history of service to the citizens of our country. No one in congress should be targeting such dedicated employees for doing their jobs and receiving a decent paycheck.

    My father was another dedicated civil servant, working for the FAA. Because of his work, runways and radar installations in the South Pacific are safer. At one time he considered working for private industry and doubling his salary. He decided against it because of the value of the work he was doing and the retirement benefits he was vested in.

    Both the dedicated service and the deferred compensation until retirement are reasons we work for the Federal Government. Take the compensation and ability to do our jobs away with downsizing and fiscal cuts and the federal sector will cease being a place good employees want to work.

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