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tv   Washington Journal J. David Cox Discusses the Federal Hiring Freeze  CSPAN  January 26, 2017 8:05am-8:38am EST

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of meaning, and helped the violence tell the story. 1967 cbs news report on thatpollo one disaster killed the astronauts during the launch rehearsal 50 years ago on january 27. >> there was a flash and that was it. the screen went blank, and he said there was no communication from the astronauts. they died silently, and apparently, swiftly. >> at 8:00, sidney blumenthal on the life of a self-made man, the political life of abraham lincoln, about the political forces that shaped the president. mr. blumenthal: the fight must toon, after his defeat
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douglas. the cause of civil liberty must not be surrounded at the end of one, or even 100 defeats. >> for a complete schedule, go to c-span.org. >> "washington journal continues. morning,our table this president of the the american federation of government employees. i want to show our viewers first what sean spicer, the white house secretary had to say -- the reason why the president went forward with this, and get your reaction on the other side. guest: sure. [video clip] spicer: encounters genetic expansion of the it counters- expansion of the workforce.
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it does not apply to military personnel, and it ensures the american taxpayers get effective and efficient government. host: j. david cox. guest: number one, the number of federal employees has been very much flat lined at 50 years right at 2 million employees. it was that many during the kennedy administration. it went up or down just a small fraction. what has increased through the years started in the reagan administration, the shadow workforce of the contract federal workforce, which is approximately 5 million people nowadays. so, the federal workforce has not actually grown. while theflat lined, needs and services of the american public have continued to grow. host: who does the hiring freeze impact? first and foremost, the
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people that it will impact is veterans. 31% of everyone of the federal employees in the country are veterans that have honorably served the country. v.a. the number of employees that are veterans is even higher than the national aerage because they have desire to go work for the veterans administration. so, it hurts veterans. i have received letters from disabled veterans that were in line for a federal job and have received notice they will not get that job. it does hurt them, and over 85% of the federal employees in the country live outside of the greater washington, d.c., area. host: who is not impacted by a hiring freeze? affected --s not that will be difficult to say.
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i believe everyone in the country will be contacted by a hiring freeze up federal workers. social security claims will slow down. veterans claims will slow down. there will not be as many people at the hospitals to care for veterans. theection, safety issues federal government provides -- screening at airports by tsa, the securing of our borders, which is a big issue -- those are things that will slow down, and the president did say in his order -- i want to be clear, and i want to applaud him -- agencies should not use contracting out as a way to circumvent the intent of his directions, however most agencies already have federal contracts, therefore it is not new contracts. they will just have to increase them to get the amount of work done. guest: he did put a hiring freeze on contracts as well -- host: he did put a hiring freeze on contract as well. guest: he did not put a freeze
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on contracting. useaid they should not contracting as a way of circumventing his directions. however, most agencies have contracts, so they could continue to use those and expand those. if you are running a the a medical center and 10 of your nurses quit, you have to have nurses to care for the veterans. if you have a contract for agency nurses, you will continue to use agency nurses. it is not a new contract, but an increase in the number of contracted employees. host: we want to get our viewers involved in the conversation. this is how we are divided the lines. and we want to hear from federal workers this morning to get your perspective. our most federal workers part of a union? 50 percent of say
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them are unionized. many are not unionized. many are exempt from having a union to represent them, and while many federal workers are part of a collective bargaining unit,ent in a bargaining membership in those federal employee unions is totally voluntary. we are 100% open shop. people choose to join the union. they are required to be a member one year. there are no service fees, as in other public sector areas. it is a total voluntary situation for people to join the union, however the law requires the union to represent people, whether they are a member or not. so, the burden is on the union to supply a good service, representation, and to work to gain those people's trust and interest to join the union. do youf you can -- collect political dues, and if so how much, and what do you do with the money?
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guest: afg runs a packed. that is not dues money. those are voluntary contributions that people get for a packed -- pact. democratsly supports and republicans, and independents. guest: forward -- host: what would you say has been the benefit for federal workers represented by your group? guest: number one, we create fairness in the workplace. when i go back and look at the had some they have problems. it is not perfect, but it is still a great health care institution -- the people that brought forth the issues with scheduling phoenix were from line g5 ng six employees that make $35,000 a year being told
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-- saying they were being told to do things they did not think were correct. they were blowing the whistle. there was action by management at higher levels to fire these employees, and afg represented and take care of those employees. these are great public servants doing a great job. we sort of spoke the furnace of the train. the directionse the train is going. we work hard to keep it on the track. that is what federal employee owns do. what about a change in administration -- we go through this every four to eight years. it is not a new thing. host: what is the difference between a federal worker who has a union behind him versus contract workers, and what is the impact of federal workers versus contract on our federal government? workers, number one, are dedicated. looking forto be
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the federal government. i am a registered nurse. i wanted to work for the v.a. it is ownership someone has in their employment. the contract workforce, they are here for a week, another place another week. there is not the ownership and the passion you put into that particular job or that particular work. also, there is stability with the work. have payt workers raises for retirement benefits and health care. federal employees, many say they are overpaid. them,mbers, the bulk of week, andabout $500 a over 70%, 80% of the people we represent make $50,000 or less a year. that is not an astronomical salary by no means. viewerst's hear what
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have to say. john is first in cap, florida, on the republican line. caller: anytime the federal government pays money to a middle-class or a poor u.s. citizen, be it to a federal employee, be it to somebody even on welfare, that has a multiplier effect when it goes to a u.s. citizen. they spend 100% of the money on the necessity of life to simulate the local economy. any tax -- remember, in the 1960's, the highest tax break, the highest tax margin was over 90% for the ultra wealthy. it was lower at 65% to 70%. reagan lowered it to 30%. money that is a tax break for the wealthy versus money to a federal employee -- tax breaks to the wealthy only makes sense if that money is used to create new u.s. citizen jobs. because money going to people
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that are not u.s. citizens goes overseas. the ultra-wealthy, if they are not creating new jobs that are --h-pain, living wages high-paying, living wages, often unionized jobs, they sent money overseas and hoarded. host: i will leave it there. j. david cox, his argument about federal workers spending the money in the economy. guest: i would agree with that. the vm medical center i worked at was in salisbury, north carolina. it was the largest employer in that city. when there was the government shutdown, the entire economy felt the effect. yes, people that are making year0 dollars to $50,000 a are spending all their money. there is very little left to say. there are many areas of the country, a v.a. medical center, a federal prison, a military
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base is the largest employer, providing great services to the american people. it also creates good, middle-class jobs for people. guest: jimmy -- host: jimmy is a federal employee. caller: good morning. great to see j. david cox on the tv as i have my coffee. i'm a longtime federal employee. i am under the civil service federal retirement plan, and i am curious if j. david cox could address not only the concerns over wage freezes, but there is talk of changing benefits and the pension formula. there is the holman rules that has been enacted by the new administration that could severely affect federal employees. here i am, nearing retirement, and i am nonunion, federal agency. there are a lot of employees, kind of, anxious and concerned on how this will float out in
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, and any changes -- the benefits formula, pension. i would appreciate if he could address that, and thanks for having him on today. host: all right, jamie. guest: first off, it is a hiring freeze, not a pay freeze. there has been some confusion about the. at the current time, -- about that. at the current time, there is no legislation to change federal employee retirement benefits. back in 1983, there was a change from the civil service to what we now call the fers, a small, defined-benefit in a 401(k) plan. we do believe there are members of congress that say they would like to get rid of the defined benefit portion of that plan, which is a very, very small portion. lesspeople try $1000 or for 30 or 40th
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years of service in the program than they have for their 401(k). affectnges in that will the recruitment and retention of federal employees, and to get the best and the brightest who want to be public servants and work for the federal government. host: what is on the agenda for republicans in congress when it comes to federal workers? guest: we are seeing various pieces of legislation that wants to take federal employees due process rights away, which -- ok, they say you cannot fire federal employees. we have data that says 77,000 federal employees have been fired in the last few years. that does not include those that were removed during a probationary period, or those that quit because they knew they were going to be terminated. there were plenty of provisions to fire federal employees, but to take on due process rights away would create a politicized workforce that we had over 100 years ago in this country.
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president andrew jackson, when elected, over 10% of the federal workforce were people that work on his campaign. there are political appointees, over 4000, that run the agencies, that are in charge and drive the agenda of the president with any administration, but we believe due process rights are important to have a good, sound, professional workforce. host: let's go to gregory in jersey city, new jersey. independent. caller: thank you, c-span, for everything you do. i have a question for you, mr. existing services at v.a. and how this would be affected by the feyerick --hiring freeze. do we feel the v.a. will be affected in their ability to serve veterans with mental disorders, addiction disorders, ptsd?
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can you speak to something of that nature? guest: currently, there are over 1400 vacancies in the v.a. for mental health professionals. that is already a large number of vacancies. with a hiring freeze and the president's press secretary was very clear this week the hiring freeze does affect the v.a., even though the order says for national security, health and welfare of the american citizens that it wouldn't, but it does affect the v.a. as people leave, clearly that will affect the care of veterans. about 200,000 federal employees leave the system every year. that is about 17,000 a month. they do not leave proportionately all over the country. so, clearly, you could have a fair number of doctors to leave at one particular v.a., and that was certainly create harm and backlog, and calls of veterans to suffer. host: let's go to tony, who is a democrat in asheboro, north
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carolina. caller: yes, i am calling because i am a disabled veteran and one of the places i could get a job is at the v.a. hospital because of my disability. this freeze coming on is going to make it to the point where all of us veterans who are from iraq, afghanistan, and places like that, thinking we are going to come home and be able to get a decent job and not have to be considered as a stigma in the private sector is now going to -- we are going to have to go into the private sector to get jobs. we will probably be discriminated against because of our disabilities. host: clearly, the v.a. hires more disabled veterans. the government gives veterans preference. i am back to my first comment. veterans the group that i believe are harmed the most in
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this federal employee hiring freeze. president reagan and president carter both put a hiring freeze in several years ago, and it's time it cost the taxpayers more money. it created a lot of government services. it has been done by democrats and republicans. it did not work then. we do not believe it will work now. most of all it will harm our veterans, particularly disabled veterans. host: greg is another federal employee in sterling heights, michigan. you are on the air with j. david cox. go ahead. mr. cox, quick question for you -- are you planning to meet with president trump, and if you do meet with him, what will you say regarding these issues. i wrote president trump requesting a meeting. he was very kind, sent me a copy
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of the letter back, wrote me a for theote, "thanks letter," and told me federal employees and afg was great. he did not say he was going to meet. i responded with another letter asking to meet with president trump, and what would i say? i would talk about the value of federal employees. someone is processing social security claims, and president trump promised with all of his heart that he would not touch social security or medicare. i will say that one more time. he promised faithfully with all of his heart to the american people that he would not touch social security and medicare. and yesterday people to process those claims and take care of those. with all ofomised his heart that he wants veterans to have the best quality of care, and that is from v.a. professionals, and a good workforce at the v.a. j. david cox is the
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national president of the american federation of government employees. you can go to afg.org to find out more about the organization. a couple of more calls. michael. florida. independent. michael, are you with us? caller: good morning, c-span, and greta. cox, i welcome you to the program. excuse my speech. 18-year veteran of the marine corps as a sergeant. i got out in 1970, and immediately joint the teamsters, -- joined the teamsters, which i worked for 37 years, and got a pension. devout --ays been a
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my wife, too -- we have always been about union people. my wife is a registered nurse, retired, from pennsylvania. we have a lot of veterans in our parking florida, and if they need a ride, you know, anywhere, all they have to do is contact me. and they know this. and we have a very good v.a. and seeown off of 27 spring. ast: and michael, do you have question for our guest here? know whereanted to the unions are headed for in this country. i know the republicans tend to be antiunion. host: ok. j. david cox, go ahead. guest: i believe unions are important to this country. they were important many, many years ago.
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they continue to be important today. for workers, they give a voice in the workplace. while federal employees and not bargain wages and benefits, we lobby congress for wages and benefits. private-sector unions have bargained for wages and benefits. i believe labor unions have helped bring the middle-class in this country, and works to keep the middle-class in this country, which is the american dream. so, i believe unions have had their ups and downs, but i believe unions continue to be the answer for the middle class, and i always say there is just not a problem that cannot be resolved with workers, and with the economy by having more union members. that would fix a lot of the problems. people would have adequate wages. they would have health care. it would have summertime and a voice in the workplace, and employers would have -- they would have security, and a voice
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in the workplace, and employers would have good employees. a democrat.to good morning, sir. the 5000es, on employees -- increasing at down there on the border. those employees you put down there, since he put the freeze on -- release the federal troops he can put in their? that.let's talk about on monday, he said there is a hiring freeze. yesterday he said they would hire 5000 more border patrol agents. guest: afg hires border patrol agent. they are very passionate, dedicated employees. there is a need for more border patrol agent's. i believe everyone of us want a secure border. i see border patrol agents that are doing with small children that have been part of human trafficking, very passionately
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taking care of them. we need more border patrol agents to do that. will havesident trump to go to congress to get appropriations. i would also say we need more people at social security to process claims, more people at the v.a. we need more people at the dod to take care of national defense. all agencies need additional staffing. 20 more screeners at airports for the flying public and their safety -- we need more screeners at airports for the flying public and their safety. i think the president will go to congress and ask for the funding for people to take care of american citizens. host: frank. florida. independent. it is your turn, frank. good morning. caller: good morning, greta. the store cox, i have a question for you about a comment you made, -- mr. cox, i have a question for you about a comment you made, and that is who did
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the afg support last year, because my wife is an afg employee, and she was inundated with calls from the afg concerning hillary clinton, and supporting her for president. can you comment on that? guest: certainly. as well secret that afg as many other unions endorse hillary clinton for president, as we have endorsed many other candidates. we endorsed president carter for his reelection. .resident reagan won once the election is over with, somebody wins, somebody loses, federal employees get up, they go to work, and they continue to serve the american people. we are not a political workforce. that is the political appointees that are the political workforce, not the rank and file members of the afg. i also say that afg stands ready with president trump, whoever
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the next president is, and passed presidents that we supported or did not support them in their election, if they want to work with us to improve services to the american people, and have good government, and treat federal employees with respect, and pay them an adequate wage. we stand ready to work with any of them. go to kentucky -- pine grove, kentucky. peter is watching there. an independent. caller: good morning, greta. many kudos to c-span and your people for the women's march. that makes you the last truthful media outlet, as opposed to the mainstream media, corporate -- mr. cox good morning to you, sir. to get right to the point -- two things --what about afg employees that vote for trump,
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and vote for the republican agenda, which is to reduce the size of government anyway they can, turn around and privatize it with corporate administration , because anytime you privatize, it automatically goes to as inate administration, the case of human resources command. half of it is being administrated by corporate -- -- ate/corporate company defense contractor, to put it that way. second, what about afg employees -- they get a card from your organization, but then they turn around and vote republican? they vote conservative. host: peter, we'll get some answers. afg number one, -- is a: number one, afg diverse organization. we recognize -- represent housekeeping aids, rock and typhus -- rock and scientists at
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nasa -- republicans, democratss, people of all religion -- all caps of aspects of a total brought spectrum. afg is proud of its diversity. our membership, certainly, whoever they vote for, that is democracy. we believe very strong in democracy. afg, in its own internal election, is a very democratic union. after several years, we have elections. we go through that. our members are free. we look at voting records of they have and how voted, or what they say on federal employee issues. ourhe same token, how numbers vote is an individual choice. we always say that. host: what is your group reaction to this headline in "new york times"
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guest: part of that, we are in a day of social media. we have had episodes in prior administrations, where there would be a halt of press releases, but in today's world, it is an instant world with twitter, facebook, and all the social media we have seen period -- we have seen president obama and president trump use those strongly in campaigning and messaging. i think this is not much different than what we have seen in the past, where there may be directives not to do press interviews or press releases. in today's world, we're just changed how we communicate. host: you are ok, then, with this directive? afg -- guest: again, we do not run the agencies. we follow the direction the agencies go. certainly, if there is something
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wrong being done in an agency, we want our members protected as whistleblowers and those that raise the issue, but, again, this is not really different than we have seen, even 30, 40 years ago. it is just today's world of social media. host: j. david cox, president of the american federation of government employees. that website, afg.org. appreciate the conversation. guest: thank you, greta. great to be with you and all the colors today. -- callers today. host: come back again. guest: thank you. host: we will open up the phones. there are the phone lines on your screens -- screen. we will get to those calls in just a minute.
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>> and said let me tell you something -- i have done everything i can to protect my country, and i'm not afraid of you, president bush, or anybody. make in order to defend my country, i will come and he did this mussolini thing ith his arms and then said did not get that order. >> on the net, john nixon talks about his book "debriefing the president" the interrogation of saddam hussein. -- mr. nixon:am saddam saw that when you are playing at his level of presidency -- the top level in the country, you know, when you big, but when you
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lose, you also lose big. >> sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on "q&a." >> c-span, where history unfolds daily -- in 1970 and, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable company, and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. "washington journal" continues. host: we are back with open phones until the top of the hour. you can weigh in on any policy issue or political debate happening. let's show you saw the headlines. front page of the new york times, and their story about a leaked order that could revive cia black site prisons. they report that it contained crossed out

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