Trump Seeks To Slash Federal Worker Compensation, Vacations

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Trump's labor adviser wants to cut wages and benefits for federal employees, and he seems to have the president's ear.

The Trump administration has made known that it would like to implement a pay freeze for federal employees, but President Trump's labor adviser would like to go much further in knocking down federal employee pay and benefits.

Sherk, a labor economist, joined Trump’s team early this year after working for the conservative Heritage Foundation. His co-authored report, “Why It Is Time to Reform Compensation for Federal Employees,” was published by Heritage just days after the 2016 Republican National Convention nominated Trump.

The bottom line: Feds would get less pay and benefits for more work.

Sherk's primary concern is that he sees federal workers as overcompensated - with wages, paid time off, health insurance, and pensions - compared to those in private sector jobs.

“Our paper was intended to serve as a framework for any candidate or elected official who wants to improve the way the federal government operates and offer more competitive options to federal employees,” Rachel Greszler, a Heritage economist who wrote the report with Sherk, said by email Friday.

What are Sherk's recommendations?

  • Restrict within-grade increases, also known as step increases. These pay hikes are based largely on tenure, rather than performance. “Limiting the size of step increases would, over time, lower pay for all federal employees.”
  • Undermine the federal retirement program by moving away from defined-benefit pensions, which cost employers more, to a defined-contribution system, which provides less certainty and higher costs for federal workers.
  • Shrink pensions significantly in the future, basing them on the average of employees’ annual career salaries instead of the current high three years — not even on the high five that other Republicans have suggested.
  • Extend the probationary period to three years, giving managers more time to fire workers at will.
  • Cut paid time off, including vacation and sick time. The authors noted that few private employers provide paid time off for every federal holiday, implying that federal employers also should not provide it.
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