AFGE's John Gage Cautions Members About Pay
After eight years of a tense relationship between federal employee unions and the White House, it's hard to find someone in Washington who is happier than John Gage now that President Obama is in charge. Yet while Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, had strong words of praise for Obama at today's session of the union's legislative conference, he also had words of caution:
"Pay will always be an issue no matter who is in power. And it will be an issue of potential danger so long as our economy is in crisis and so long as the deficit grows larger. Let’s never forget that it was Franklin Roosevelt — the greatest president the labor movement has ever had — who imposed a 15 percent cut in government employees’ pay at the height of the Depression. The risks to our members on this issue were amplified when President Obama’s decision to freeze the pay of higher-income White House employees. When a president is asking for sacrifice by the nation as a whole, there will always be the temptation to make an example of government employees."
Gage added that his members "are more than willing to do our fair share. But we will not be singled out, we will not be scapegoated, and we will not allow public service to be treated as second-class employment."
He was not hinting that Obama has used federal workers as scapegoats. The union president, however, did seem to send a signal to the White House and Congress that the union will fight for every penny in salary increases it believes its members are due.
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