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News Opinion Readers Respond

Federal employees are hurting under sequestration

Your article about the effects of the sequester on federal employees left readers with a misleading impression of its effects by not mentioning the IRS ("Agencies in Maryland dodge furloughs — for now," March 30).

The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents IRS employees and more than 35 other federal agencies, represents over 1,000 employees at various posts in Maryland, including Baltimore City, Annapolis, Salisbury, Wheaton and Frederick. In addition, there is a huge IRS office in New Carrollton.

Nationwide, IRS employees are facing up to seven furlough days through the end of September. The union and the IRS are negotiating over this.

In addition, the Office of Personnel Management has directed all federal agencies to cease payments of any awards or performance bonuses. Our IRS contract calls for awards based on what our best performers are paid. These awards are paid out in September and can range from a few dollars up to $2,500.

The IRS has stated it will not pay out these awards. Our union, NTEU, is negotiating this as well. Meanwhile, the IRS has not been able to keep up with hiring in the enforcement area over the past few years, and that trend will continue. Audits of individuals and corporations are also declining.

The year 2013 will be the third consecutive year in which federal employees have been under a pay freeze. It is quite apparent most of the deficit reduction has been focused on the backs of federal employees.

In sum, the effects of sequestration are very much being felt by federal employees. Promotions have not been available which lowers morale. At the same time there is more work to be done by fewer employees. The bottom line is that we can all agree that waste should be eliminated from the federal budget, but the proper way to do that is not across-the-board percentage cuts for all federal agencies.

George Schlaffer, Baltimore

The writer is president of NTEU Chapter 62.

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