The largest federal workers union in the United States condemned President Donald Trump on Thursday for throwing his support behind the Senate GOP's effort to freeze the pay of civilian government employees in 2021, a move that would effectively slash their pay given rising insurance premiums.
Everett Kelley, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), called the outgoing president's decision to backtrack on his previous support for a 1% raise "demeaning, dishonest, and cruel."
"A pay freeze further shows how the Trump administration and Senate Republicans are in lockstep on hollowing out the federal government—making it that much harder to respond to national crises like the coronavirus pandemic."
—Everett Kelley, AFGE
"A pay freeze further shows how the Trump administration and Senate Republicans are in lockstep on hollowing out the federal government—making it that much harder to respond to national crises like the coronavirus pandemic," Kelley said in a statement. "It's sad that even on his way out, President Trump still can't resist the opportunity to stick it to the government workers he so often vilified during his four years in office. If he wants to throw a temper tantrum over the American people's decision, he needs to leave federal employees out of it."
Kelley urged lawmakers to reject the "disrespectful proposal" as they continue to negotiate the specifics of a spending package needed to avert a looming government shutdown.
As Common Dreams reported Wednesday, Trump's budget director Russ Vought quietly announced the White House's support for the proposed pay freeze in a letter (pdf) earlier this week to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The Trump administration's endorsement of the Senate GOP's proposal, made public last month, came as the president is also working during his final days in power to strip many federal workers of civil service protections via executive order, leaving swaths of government employees vulnerable to termination without cause.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who is urging appropriators to block Trump's executive order in the year-end government spending bill, denounced the president's support for the proposed pay freeze as "another gratuitous attack on our dedicated federal employees."
"These public servants have done heroic work during the pandemic and deserve our support," said Connolly, "and instead Donald Trump is reneging on another promise."